Sunderland City Council’s leader has spoken of his pride at the key enabling role the organisation has played in securing one of the most significant investments in the city in decades.

Today’s announcement of a £1bn investment in Sunderland, creating and securing thousands of jobs across the North East, represents the biggest job-creating project Sunderland has seen since Nissan arrived in the city more than 30 years ago.

A key part of the infrastructure that will enable the flagship Electric Vehicle (EV) Hub – Nissan 36Zero – is the development of a trailblazing Microgrid that aims to deliver a 100% renewable electricity power source that will save 55,000 tonnes of carbon annually.

With the ability to incorporate the existing Nissan wind and solar farms, initial plans suggest there could be as many as ten solar farms created, with an anticipated 132MW generation, and with a direct connection to renewable energy from the UK grid for ‘firm’ supply to Nissan and automotive companies located on the adjacent IAMP.

The first-of-its-kind, this project – estimated to be an £80 million investment – also includes plans for a 1MW battery storage system using second-life Nissan EV batteries, which will also allow for excess energy generated during daylight hours to be captured and used at another time, helping to balance demand on the grid. The project has been led by the council so far, and the ambition is to attract private sector partnership to make the vision a reality.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said he was enormously proud of the work of the council, and the role it has played, including in shaping the plans for the Microgrid, which will help make Nissan 36Zero possible.

“We have worked tirelessly, in lockstep with Nissan, Envision Group and UK Government to ensure that Sunderland landed this transformational project that will deliver jobs and prosperity for our residents.

“The Microgrid infrastructure is a key enabler of this game-changing project and, through this, we are helping to create the conditions for Nissan, Envision AESC and indeed the wider manufacturing cluster in the area to thrive. We have a long track record of partnership working with businesses in the city and this is just that… a demonstration of our commitment to the success of our manufacturing sector, and to our people – for whom this investment will create jobs and opportunities.

“Put simply, these will be green jobs, utilising green energy to create green products – the perfect blend for a city focused not only on economic growth, but also on putting in place the foundations of a cleaner healthier future for our children and young people. And it is the next generation that we do this great work for. Inspiring them about careers at Nissan, Envision AESC and in the associated supply chain is something we will work closely with both companies to achieve as this exciting EV hub takes shape.”

The leader said the project was also a key staple in the local authority’s commitment to carbon neutrality, and to the use of technology to enable economic success.

He said: “We have set ambitious targets for carbon neutrality, because we are focused on being the best in class, here in Sunderland. This is an important part of that commitment. And it sends a message far and wide – that Sunderland is helping to underpin a project that will revolutionise the way people travel in the future – that we are absolutely focused on a more sustainable future, working with Nissan and Envision Group to achieve that.

“Today vindicates the unwavering belief this council has in the city’s ability to drive the electric revolution, working in partnership with the private sector and Government to bring nationally significant projects to fruition, and creating jobs and prosperity for our people and businesses in the process. Sunderland is an ambitious city, striving to be a world-leading smart sustainable city, and today proves it. It is game-changing – a transformational project for city that is evolving to play a leading role in UK Plc’s success long into the future.

“We are enormously proud to be playing our part in this world-leading partnership, the product of months of hard work that will deliver many years of benefit for Sunderland and its people.”