Renault cars – powered by the sun?

It includes 450,000 metres squared of solar panels – the equivalent of 63 football pitches – built into the roof of Renault sites across Europe.

Renault says the project will reduce its overall CO2 emissions by 30,000 tonnes per year and deliver enough electricity to power a town with a population of 15,000.

It means Renault will be using solar energy to power production of its cars and bring down the whole life environmental impact of its production process.

The panels will be fully operational by February next year, in time for the first of four Renault electric vehicles to be launched by the French brand.

The range of all-electric vehicles starts with the Renault Kangoo Van Z.E. Available in normal or Maxi configurations, the electric van will be the first of its kind to go on sale in the UK.

A saloon, the Renault Fluence Z.E., will be the second model launched by the brand. It will be followed with the Renault Zoe Z.E., the supermini-sized vehicle whose styling is expected to influence the next generation of Renault Clio.

Finally, the quirky Renault Twizy Z.E., a mobility solution featuring three seats and no physical doors, will complete the four-strong range.

Previously, Renault launched an eco2 policy, which was designed to reduce the impact of its production and highlight some of the more eco-friendly vehicles in the range.

Renault said: "The installation of solar panels at manufacturing plants is a sign of Renault’s long-standing commitment to the environment, expressed in the eco2 policy. And the range of affordable electric vehicles is the flagship development of that commitment."