Toyota and renewable energy company Savion have executed a virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA) for the automotive manufacturer to offtake 100 MW of the electricity generated from Savion’s Martin County Solar Project.
The project is converting the former Martiki Coal Mine, a brownfield site in Martin County, on the border of Kentucky and West Virginia, into a new, clean solar photovoltaic energy facility.
Once an active mountain-top coal mine that closed in the 1990s, the Martiki site has clear access to sunlight, making it an ideal location for reclamation and the installation of solar photovoltaic panels for electricity generation. Construction on the project is anticipated to begin in the middle of this year and commercial operation is expected in 2024.
“It is important that renewable power is more available to large-scale U.S. energy buyers, and converting brownfields like this offers a path forward for former energy communities to take advantage of the infrastructure they already have with transmission lines while providing clean energy to the grid,” says David Absher, senior manager of environmental sustainability at Toyota Motor North America.
The 100 MW that Toyota will offtake will be used primarily to help reduce the company’s carbon footprint in North America, supplementing the model it has created of environmental stewardship in Kentucky, the state with Toyota’s largest vehicle manufacturing plant in the world. The move is consistent with the company’s plans to make all its operations in North America carbon neutral by 2035.
Savion is developing the Martin County Solar Project with the support of local development partner Edelen Renewables. With backing from state officials and local leadership, the development phase continues to advance. Once completed, the overall project is expected to be one of the largest solar energy generation facilities operating in Kentucky.