Last week, Sainsbury’s announced the completion of a 69,500 solar panels installation on almost 170 of its 572 supermarkets in all the UK. The company says the panels, if combined all together, would cover 24 football pitches, and also claims the tittle of the biggest solar power generator in Europe, as, collectively, the panels would become the biggest solar array in all the continent.
Justin King, chief executive of Sainsbury’s, urged other retailers to “take another look” at investing in solar energy. “Supermarkets have the equivalent of football fields on their roofs, many of them underutilised,” he added. “It’s a perfect time to turn that space into something positive.“
The 16MW solar capacity installed across the supermarket stores will reduce Sainsbury’s carbon footprint by 6,800 tonnes of CO2 per year, as well as an important drop on the company’s utility bills. But this is only the beginning: as mentioned in its 20 by 20 Sustainability Plan, the company aims to reduce its operational carbon emissions by 30% absolute and 65% relative during the next 8 years, and also holds a wider ambition to cut its carbon footprint in half by 2030. “This solar rollout is another big step forward,” said King in a statement. “It makes sense for us – it’s good for the environment and for our business and we are actively looking to install more panels.“
The supermarket giant is truly supporting the use of renewables. In addition to this massive solar panel installation, Sainsbury’s has installed over 40 biomass boilers as well as committed to installing geo-thermal heat pumps at 100 of its stores in a move designed to curb emissions from heating and cooling. Moreover, despite the cuts to solar incentives the Government has been doing during this last year, the company’s continued investment in solar energy suggests solar panels can still generate acceptable levels of return.