The two companies will install and operate geothermal heat pumps expected to supply up to 100 MW of renewable power in the supermarket chain’s stores by the end of 2016.
Sainsbury’s already uses geothermal technology at its Crayford store in south-east London — 30 percent of the shop’s energy comes from this on-site renewable source, 600 feet underground. According to the company, it’s the first in the world to use geothermal technology in a supermarket.
Geothermal is part of Sainsbury’s 20 by 20 Sustainability Plan, which includes reducing its absolute operational carbon emissions by 30 percent compared to 2005 and delivering fully renewable heat sources for its supermarkets by 2030.
UK energy company E.ON is working with thermal energy company Greenfield Energy, which developed the installation at Sainsbury’s Crayford store. E.ON is also one of 22 initial providers under the Green Deal, the UK government’s program to finance energy efficiency improvements to commercial and residential buildings at no upfront cost to owners.
Sainsbury’s other partner in the 100-store geothermal project, UK ground source heat pump company Geothermal International, is working with investment firm Octopus Investments on the project.
While they have yet to install geothermal pumps, the supermarket chain’s competitors are also implementing a number of low-carbon technologies. Tesco opened the world’s first zero-carbon supermarket at Ramsey, Cambridgeshire, and has since opened a further six such stores, most recently at Cefn Mawr in Wales. As of 2012, all Marks & Spencer-operated stores, offices, warehouse and delivery fleets in the UK have been certified as carbon neutral.
A study published this month by the International Energy Agency predicted that renewable electricity generation including geothermal will grow by 1,840 TWh between 2011 and 2017, almost 60 percent above the 1,160 TWh growth reported between 2005 and 2011 – and a 40 percent increase over current levels.
A Boston transit hub, which opened in May, says it will achieve net-zero energy using geothermal and other renewable sources, and a Missouri University of Science and Technology geothermal project, slated for completion in 2014, is expected to halve the campus’s energy use.