Outdoing the likes of Ferrari and Audi, which have already installed solar panels onto the roofs of their manufacturing plants, Renault has partnered with Gestamp Solar to launch what it says is the largest solar energy project in the automotive industry. The project will see solar panels eventually covering a total area of 450,000 m2 (4,843,760 sq ft) at Renault plants in France, generating 60 MW and cutting the company's CO2 emissions by 30,000 tons a year.

Installation of the solar panels on the roofs of the delivery and shipping centers at Renault's Douai, Maubeuge, Flins, Batilly, Sandouville and Cléon sites will begin this month, with completion scheduled for February 2012. Renault says that upon completion, the solar panels will cover an area equivalent to 63 football fields and generate enough electricity to power a town of 15,000 - although that's obviously not what it will be used for.

The solar roof project is part of Renault's plan to reduce its carbon footprint by 10 percent by 2013 and a further 10 percent by 2016. The company says it has already implemented a number of measures towards attaining these goals, including reducing energy consumption at its plants and diversifying the energy mix used to generate electricity with a particular focus on renewable energy sources.