Sainsbury’s installs 22 MW of rooftop systems across UK

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Sainsbury’s, one of the biggest U.K. retailers, has just completed its 210th rooftop PV system. The supermarket chain has now installed 100,000 solar panels across its stores, totaling 22 MW, enough to cover 35 football pitches.

Sainsbury’s operates over 1,106 supermarkets and convenience stores in the U.K. as well as online grocery and general merchandise outlets. It also jointly owns Sainsbury’s Bank with Lloyds Banking Group in addition to two property joint ventures.

Sainsbury’s milestone makes it one of the largest multi-roof solar panel operators in Europe. Paul Crewe, Sainsbury’s head of Engineering, Sustainability, Energy and Environment, said that over the past four years Sainsbury’s supermarkets have “achieved a 9.1% absolute reduction in electricity use despite a 25% increase in space, and we’re really seeing the benefits from using our underutilized space for solar panels, and from the other renewable technologies we’ve installed.”

Crewe added that renewable types of technology “are fundamental to the sustainability of our business and there is a strong commercial case for using each technology. They are helping us cut carbon emissions and energy bills and achieve the environmental targets we set. … It’s good news for the environment and is supporting job creation in the U.K.’s renewable energy sector.”

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker welcomed the news during a visit to Sainsbury’s store at London Colney in St. Albans last week, saying “the coalition [government] is committed to helping businesses across the U.K. cut energy waste and become more energy efficient.”

Sainsbury’s investment in onsite renewable energy technologies is part of its ambitious sustainability target to reduce its operational carbon emissions by 30% absolute, and 65% relative, by 2020 compared to 2005. This is part of a broader target of an absolute carbon reduction of 50% by 2030. The company said the PV installations would reduce its total CO2 emissions by an estimated 9,785 tons per year.

The group recently launched its Sainsbury’s Energy division with British Gas, offering sustainable energy solutions to homes across the U.K. The company says on its website that a British home that installs a 3 kW rooftop solar PV system could result in combined average annual earnings and savings of £628 (€726, $964).