HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — An auto manufacturing plant in Huntsville has plans to use more renewable energy.

Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama Inc. builds thousands of automobile engines a day at its Huntsville plant.

Soon, 70% of the energy used to power the facility will come from solar power.

Wednesday, Toyota Alabama announced it will be building a 168-acre solar farm, adjacent to the Huntsville plant off of Pulaski Pike.

The future home of one of the solar fields.

“We want to create a model of environmental stewardship in manufacturing and positively impact the world around us,” said Jason Puckett, the president of Toyota Alabama.

The $49 million dollar solar project is a partnership between Toyota Alabama, Huntsville Utilities, and Toyota Tsusho America Inc. (TAI). The organizations entered a power purchase agreement to support the project.

“It’s a first for Toyota to go into a power purchase agreement with a local utility,” Puckett said.

To put the project into perspective, Puckett said, “Through this solar array we will be able to offset 22,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions from our operations.”

He explained that the solar field will generate enough energy to power 5,600 homes for a year.

“We aren’t doing this to save money,” Puckett said with a chuckle. “We’re doing this because it’s the right thing to do,” he continued.

The solar project is a big step toward achieving Toyota North America’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2035.

A rendering of what the solar fields will look like.

The Toyota Motor Manufacturing plant in Huntsville assembles V6 and V8 engines that are found in Tacoma and Tundra trucks and Sequoia full-size SUVs.

The plant also manufactures 4-cylinder engines for Camry, Rav4, Sienna, and Highlander vehicles.

Chris Simmons, the Vice President of Toyota Tsusho America, said using solar power to power a plant like this seemed impossible, until now.

“Whoever would have thought you could make 3,000 engines a day using 70% solar power,” Simmons said. “This is a good demonstration of what some people might not think is possible” he continued.

Madison County Commission Chairman Mac McCutcheon spoke at the announcement on Wednesday. McCutcheon explained that North Alabama is a region with many natural resources, and using solar energy is a sustainable way to use them.

“We’re doing a project to help protect those resources in our natural environment,” the Chairman said.

According to Toyota Alabama, the plant is expected to start gathering solar energy by the summer of 2024.