Lotus goes racing green

CELIA WIGG Norfolk sports car manufacturer Lotus is planning a wind farm in the centre of its test track to supply all its electricity needs.

CELIA WIGG

NORFOLK sports car manufacturer Lotus is planning a wind farm in the centre of its test track to supply all its electricity needs.

The company has joined forces with green energy company Ecotricity in a drive to minimise its carbon emissions, and help combat global warming, by producing renewable power on site.

Lotus has carried out extensive assessment of its premises at Hethel, demonstrating the potential for a wind park comprising three turbines with the capacity to generate six megawatts, which is enough electricity to supply about 5,000 homes.

Ecotricity has now submitted a request to South Norfolk Council for a “scoping opinion” which is the next stage in progressing the development. It will seek the views and advice of all statutory bodies concerned.

The turbines could provide up to 100pc of Lotus's electricity needs including the manufacturing facility, assembly halls, paint and composite shops, engine testing, computer aided design and analysis tools, and project and administration offices. Excess power can be used by local residents.

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Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity, said: “This is an exciting project and I'm delighted that Lotus is taking its responsibility to the environment so seriously. There are many myths about what it takes for a business to become truly green, and the Lotus wind turbine project will be an important example for other organisations.”

Lotus already has an extensive and diverse portfolio of green technologies. The company has developed the bio-ethanol powered Lotus Exige 265E, and conducted extensive research into compressed natural gas powered cars and hybrid technology. It is also working with a number of clients worldwide to engineer advanced electric vehicles.

Mike Kimberley, chief executive officer of Group Lotus plc, said: “Lotus is globally recognised as a pioneer in vehicle technology and is now working worldwide in environmental and green transport research. By sourcing our electricity needs for our Hethel headquarters in Norfolk from these wind turbines, we can contribute to reducing our corporate CO2 emissions dramatically.”

The turbines are likely to be about 120m high, and would be sited on the grassed area in the centre of the track.

Bracon Ash and Hethel Parish Council discussed the scheme on Monday, and chairman Colin Rudd said the first impressions were “cautiously favourable”.

“There were concerns about the noise and, yes that's three turbines but we don't want 10, and there were queries about what benefits could be for the local community. Lotus have agreed to attend our open meeting on May 10 to talk to people about what's happening,” he said.