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Sainsbury’s Builds Out Largest Solar Capacity in Europe

Sainsbury’s has completed installation of 69,500 PV solar panels, or 16 MW of power, across 169 stores in the UK. With this investment, the supermarket says its rooftops collectively host the largest solar array in Europe.

The solar power will reduce the company’s total carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 6,800 tons per year. Chief executive Justin King said that the stores produce more solar power than most commercial solar farms.

The retailer said that it worked closely with solar manufacturers and installers to find the most efficient and cost-effective way to execute the project across its stores.

For example, in March Sainsbury’s installed 6.9 MW worth of solar PV systems on store rooftops in the south of England. The series of 115 projects, completed by Renewable Resources, uses 50 to 150 kW systems. No alterations to the buildings were required to facilitate the installations. Renewable Resources installed a typical 50 kW system in less than three days in order for Sainbury’s to meet the U.K.’s feed-in tariff deadlines.

By 2020, the company aims to cut its operational carbon emissions by 30 per cent absolute and 65 per cent relative, compared with 2005 – part of a broader goal of a 50 percent absolute carbon reduction by 2030. Sainsbury’s published these targets in its 20 by 20 Sustainability Plan, which sets out 20 sustainability goals to be achieved by 2020.

As well as solar panels, the supermarket chain has installed over 40 biomass boilers and has recently announced the roll-out of geothermal heat pump technology at up to 100 stores to provide heating and hot water. That follows Sainsbury’s successful use of geothermal technology at its Crayford location, enabling the store to supply 30 percent of its energy from on-site renewable sources.

Sainsbury’s partnered with E.ON and Geothermal International to provide the stores with heating, hot water and cooling from underground heat. 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.

Photo: Sainsbury’s

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