UK Supermarket Chain Installs 100,000th Solar Panel

Sainsbury’s says it has now installed 100,000 solar panels, representing 22MW capacity across 210 of its UK stores.

Enough to cover 35 football pitches; the company says the modules will reduce its carbon impact by an estimated 9,785 tonnes per year.

The company has also extended its renewable energy efforts to other technologies, including solar hot water and ground source heat pumps. A recently installed heat pump at its Crayford store supplies 30 per cent of that supermarket’s energy requirements.

Sainsbury’s has also entered into power purchase agreements (PPA’s) with third parties, including two wind farms and an anaerobic digestion plant, and is contracted for supply equivalent to 13% of its consumption by the end of 2013 as part of its 20×20 Sustainability Plan to achieve 20% by 2020.

The company states it also generates some of the heat required for its large supermarkets from biomass boilers that burn wood pellets and has installed 74 biomass boilers since 2008.

Sainsbury’s has set a goal of reducing its operational carbon emissions by 30% absolute (and 65% relative) by 2020 compared with 2005; part of a broader target of an absolute carbon reduction of 50% by 2030.

Its energy efficiency programme, RESET, has been running for a number of years and has generated energy savings equivalent to running 110 supermarkets.

In other green operational efforts, Sainsbury’s is looking at supplier emissions, implementing water use reduction strategies, phasing out harmful gases in refrigeration and has set a goal of putting all waste to positive use by 2020.

Retailers installing solar panels isn’t just about carbon emissions reduction – in many parts of the world, including Australia, a commercial scale solar power system can often deliver electricity cheaper than can be sourced from the mains grid.