GSK has announced a significant solar and wind power investment at its site in Irvine as they bid to take their medicine manufacturing off the grid.

A solar farm, composed of around 42,000 solar panels, along with structural support and electrical infrastructure will be installed across 56 acres (23 ha) on GSK’s land around its manufacturing facility.

Two further Enercon (E126) wind turbines with a hub height of nearly 150 m will also be built, taking the total number around the site to four. In addition, the investment comprises dedicated site infrastructure, including a new substation and a new cable connecting the site to the supply point at Kilwinning.

When fully operational, the solar farm and turbines will produce 45 GWh of green electricity per year and replace electricity that is currently drawn from the grid. This is enough to power approximately 12,000 homes.

The investment is being made possible with the signing of a 20-year agreement to purchase the power from The Farm Energy Company, which is being supported by Lloyds bank to design, build, finance and operate the solar and wind power units in Irvine.

GSK Irvine Site Director, Cammy Mitchell said: “The production of our life-saving product is a very power-hungry process. GSK Irvine is now taking its biggest step yet to end its reliance on electricity generated elsewhere.

“The power purchase agreement with The Farm Energy Company builds on a series of investments in wind, biomass and biogas and will cut emissions by some 10,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

“It will also allow us to make the single biggest contribution to GSK is global renewable electricity target.

“GSK’s commitment is not just to becoming carbon net zero but also the coming nature positive. We are delighted that the contract includes an investment in enhancing the biodiversity of the huge area of land around our site.

“Today’s agreement demonstrates the importance of Irvine, and our team here, to GSK’s global factories network.”

Paul Holmes-Ling, Managing Partner and Co-Founder, The Farm Energy Company said: “This is a significant milestone for GSK and we are delighted to be making an investment in excess of £40 million to realise their renewable energy ambitions which will not only have immediate benefits for the Irvine facility but will also create a legacy for the local community through significant bio-diversity improvements.

“Farm Energy has been pioneering in our approach to combining different technologies in many of our projects.

“The combination of wind and solar in a large private wire scheme is best suited to GSK’s requirements at the Irvine site, and innovative models like this can show how businesses can reduce costs and achieve Net Zero goals at the same time.”

Jonas Persson, Managing Director, Sustainability & ESG Finance, Lloyds Bank said: “Funding the development of renewable power generation will be crucial to achieving Net Zero status in the UK by 2050.

“In particular, low risk technologies such as onshore wind and solar will play a role by facilitating the transition away from Government subsidies.

“As part of Lloyds Bank’s Clean Growth Financing Initiative, we are proud to complete our first renewable energy financing backed by a Corporate Power Purchase Agreement and to support both Farm Energy Company and GSK in helping to deliver the UK’s carbon reduction targets.”

Net Zero Secretary Michael Matheson said: “We all need to play our part in ending Scotland’s contribution to climate change, and the private sector has a key role in this journey. Scotland can show the rest of the world how it’s done – and ensure our people, businesses and communities are at the forefront of a greener, more sustainable economy.

“The decarbonisation of the electricity sector has been a major success of Scotland’s energy policy over the past decade and I am pleased to see this significant milestone announced by GSK. Our just transition to net zero presents many economic opportunities for our business community to embrace green innovation and investment, supporting our climate goals and benefitting our economy, environment and society.”