672-acre farm will generate 105 MW of energy, will offset power use at Danish pharmaceutical company's US operations

PENDER COUNTY -- A rural area in northern Pender County will soon help a Danish pharmaceutical company get a bit greener.

Construction started in March on a 675-acre solar farm on a 1,000-acre tract near N.C. 11 and Willard Road, approximately halfway between Watha and Wallace.

Energy that the farm generates will belong to international pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk. The farm is being built by California-based Cypress Creek Renewables and is expected to generate about 900 construction jobs, including about 150 that will be filled by local workers.

Energy from the $70-million, 105-megawatt farm -- one of the largest such sites in North Carolina -- will be sufficient, officials said, to offset all of Novo Nordisk’s energy use in North America. That includes all its offices, labs and manufacturing facilities, including the company's growing manufacturing plant in Clayton.

“Beginning in early 2020, Novo Nordisk's global production will be completely powered by renewable electricity, with a 10-year goal of achieving zero carbon emissions from operations and transportation,” according to a press release from the company.

Last year, Novo Nordisk emitted about 13,500 tons of carbon dioxide from electricity generation from its production sites in North Carolina and New Hampshire. “With the new solar project, the company's net CO2 emissions from electricity will go down to zero,” according to the company.

In 2015, Novo Nordisk joined RE100, a collaborative, global initiative of businesses committed to using 100 percent renewable power. Once the solar site is completed in early 2020, Novo Nordisk expects to be the first pharmaceutical company in the RE100 to achieve this goal.

Headquartered in Denmark, Novo Nordisk employs about 43,500 people around the world. Many of its facilities, including production plants in China, Brazil and across Europe, run completely on renewable energy.

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