UK supermarket retailer Sainsbury’s says it installed over 69,500 solar panels making it the operator of the largest solar power array in Europe.
The solar panels installed across 169 of its 572 stores add up to a total capacity of 16 MW, enough to power 4100 homes.
The solar rollout is part of the company’s 20 by 20 Sustainability Plan to cut operational carbon emissions 30% against 2005 levels by 2020. The solar panels will reduce the supermarket’s carbon emissions by around 6800 tonnes a year.
“We’ve already made real progress towards achieving our environmental commitments,” says chief executive Justin King. “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.”
King says that the retail sector should take another look at solar power as a way to reduce environmental impact, which is becoming increasingly vital in the face of rising energy costs and tighter regulations.
“Supermarkets have the equivalent of football fields on their roofs, many of them underutilised. It’s a perfect time to turn that space into something positive,” says King.
Solar energy costs could reach parity with the grid for commercial installations within the next two to four years, believes King, which could herald a new boom in the industry.
Environmental group Friends of the Earth has warmly welcomed Sainsbury’s effort as an example to other businesses.
“This major solar investment will make Sainsbury’s a greener grocer and gives a significant boost to the UK’s renewable energy sector,” says campaigner Andrew Pendleton.
For further information:
UK government confirms final cuts to microgeneration subsidies (23-Jul)
Sainsbury’s digs deep to rollout geothermal heating to stores (20-Jul)
Hertz and IKEA move ahead with solar installations (10-Jul)
Sainsbury’s sets out stall for £1 billion sustainability plan (12-Oct 2011)
06 August 2012