Sainsbury's Becomes Largest Solar Panel Operator in U.K. and Europe
August 9, 2012
Sainsbury's has installed 69,500 new photovoltaic solar panels, or 16 MW of power, across 169 stores in the U.K., which mean it collectively hosts the largest solar array in the U.K. and Europe.
The solar power will reduce Sainsbury's total carbon emissions by an estimated 6,800 tons per year, and reduce each store's energy consumption and energy costs.
The retailer worked closely with solar manufacturing and installation businesses to find the most efficient and cost-effective way to execute the project across its stores.
"We've already made real progress towards achieving our environmental commitments detailed in our stretching 20 by 20 Sustainability Plan,” said Justin King, CEO of Sainsbury's. “This solar rollout is another big step forward. It makes sense for us -- it's good for the environment and for our business, and we are actively looking to install more panels.
"We already produce far more solar power than most commercial solar farms. We believe the retail sector should take another look at solar energy as a viable way to reduce its impact on the environment,” he said. “Supermarkets have the equivalent of football fields on their roofs, many of them underutilized. It's a perfect time to turn that space into something positive.”
King said that large installations such as Sainsbury’s will help reduce the costs of solar energy and reach parity with the grid in the next two to four years.
Investment in onsite renewable energy technologies is part of Sainsbury's corporate target to reduce its operational carbon emissions by 30 percent absolute and 65 percent relative by 2020 compared with 2005. This is part of a broader target of an absolute carbon reduction of 50 percent by 2030.
This broader target is one of 20 goals published in Sainsbury's 20 by 20 Sustainability Plan, which acts as a cornerstone to Sainsbury's business strategy and sets out 20 sustainability goals to be achieved by 2020.
Sainsbury's has also installed more than 40 biomass boilers and recently announced the roll out of a geothermal heat pump technology at up to 100 stores, tapping renewable energy from deep underground to provide heating and hot water.
GRD Views: Based on discussions with major retailers during last week’s Green Retail Decisions Innovation Summit, there are many U.S. retailers that agree with Sainsbury’s view that the time is right to expand the adoption of solar power. – John Failla for Green Retail Decisions
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