CLAYTON – As part of its plans to use only renewable electricity in the U.S., Novo Nordisk is investing $70 million in a 672-acre solar panel installation in southeastern North Carolina’s Pender County.

When completed in early 2020, the solar farm, about the size of 500 football fields, will provide power to the company’s entire U.S. operations, including:

  • The Clayton manufacturing campus
  • A New Hampshire production facility
  • The U.S. headquarters office in New Jersey
  • R&D locations in Seattle and Indianapolis

Cypress Creek Renewables began construction of the 105-Megawatt DC solar energy installation in March and will create 900 construction jobs this year.

Novo Nordisk photo

Aerial view of Novo Nordisk campus in Johnston County. (Photo courtesy Novo Nordisk)

Novo Nordisk said its U.S. production sites emitted 13,460 tons of carbon dioxide from electricity use in 2018. The new solar project will take those emissions to zero. The company said it chose North Carolina for the site because solar energy is plentiful in the state.

The company is currently expanding its Clayton manufacturing site and also plans a new production facility there next year. Novo Nordisk employs 1,200 people in North Carolina and nearly 6,000 in the U.S.

Novo Nordisk to build $70M solar farm in NC, wants 100% renewable power

The company is part of a collaborative global initiative called RE100 – and the first pharmaceutical company participate. Members commit to using only renewable electricity.

Chad Henry, corporate vice president and general manager of Novo Nordisk Diabetes Finished Products in Clayton, told the North Carolina Biotechnology Center that the electricity produced at the facility will feed directly into the power grid. Novo Nordisk will be acquiring all Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) generated by the facility.

The goal is part of a new and ambitious ‘Circular for Zero’ environmental strategy in which renewable energy, recycling, and elimination of waste and water loss reduce environmental impact of operations.

Novo Nordisk photo

Novo Nordisk’s campus

“More than 29 million people use our medicines and from early next year, they can do so knowing that they’re produced using only renewable electricity,” said Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen, president and CEO, in making the announcement.

“By committing to achieve zero emissions across our operations and transport by 2030 and by applying a circular mindset across our entire business, we are working toward a day when we will be able to say that Novo Nordisk is a company with zero environmental impact.”

The company said it will upgrade existing products and design new products based on circular principles working toward a sustainable solution for the reuse and recycling of products.

Novo Nordisk said it will continue to reduce the environmental footprint of its production by also working toward the elimination of waste sent to landfills and zero loss of water, energy and resources.

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Novo Nordisk will also reduce environmental impact across its supply chain by collaborating with suppliers to encourage circular business practices and by increasing procurement of recycled and carbon-neutral materials and resources.

To help achieve its new ambitious targets and to accelerate the adoption of circular thinking across the business, Novo Nordisk will partner with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which has a mission to accelerate the transition to a circular economy.

Novo Nordisk plans $22M expansion in Johnston County, more jobs

The company’s global operations outside the U.S. already rely on renewable energy sources. Novo Nordisk’s production facility in Tianjin, China, uses 100 percent windmill power. In Montes Claros, Brazil, the company uses 100 percent water power. And in Europe, all production sites use 100 percent windmill power. In Denmark, all facilities – production and offices – run on 100 percent renewable power.

(C) N.C. Biotech Center