The Bentley Motors factory in Crewe now features the largest rooftop array of solar panels in the UK.

Some 3.45 hectares of roof space at the factory now features a solar system comprising 20,000 panels, with an expected solar capacity of 5MWp.

At peak times, the panels could produce up to 40 per cent of the factory's energy requirements, with excess energy generated during factory shutdown periods and weekends being fed back into the National Grid, via a two-way connection.

However, the project will benefit from the Renewables Obligation (RO) rather than the feed in tariff (FiT), according to system owner and maintenance company Lightsource who have signed a Power Purchase Agreement with Bentley.

This approach has been taken as larger firms will be subject to reduced payments via the FiT from the beginning of April. However, smaller projects will still be able to benefit from favourable rates of return from the government initiative.

In addition to saving energy, the system could potentially cut CO2 emissions by 2,500 tonnes a year.

Michael Straughan, member of the board for manufacturing at Bentley, said: "Unlikely as it may seem our 1940s plant in Crewe is ideally situated to generate solar power as the 'saw tooth' factory roofs are south facing at an angle of 20 degrees."

He added that the panels will help to reduce running costs and ensure that all manufacturing operations in Crewe are "efficient, sustainable and globally competitive".

The company will now offset the carbon emissions created during production with the introduction of the energy saving measure. In a statement, the company said:

"The completion of the UK's largest rooftop solar array stands out as a major anomaly for a market that has continued to struggle since a challenging feed-in tariff rate was introduced when the tri-monthly degression mechanism was implemented."