Marks and Spencer to install UK's largest PV rooftop

British retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) has announced it is installing the UK’s largest rooftop PV project on its distribution centre in the East Midlands of England, at Castle Donington.

The 6.1 MW project is expected to be completed early in the new year and will consist of 24,272 panels over a 900,000 sq ft roof.

The installation, M&S said yesterday, will generate over 5000 MWh of electricity per year.

M&S’ huge automated distribution centre, large enough to hold 11 soccer pitches, will become almost self-sufficient in daylight hours and the company’s carbon footprint will be reduced by 48,000 tonnes over 20 years.

The project is one of a number of renewable projects set to be announced by M&S over the next 12 months and aiming to help the retailer fulfil its commitment to ensure 50% of the electricity used in its building operations comes from small-scale renewables by 2020.

The Castle Donington rooftop is being supplied and installed by Amber Infrastructure, an international sponsor and manager of infrastructure with offices in the UK, Germany, Australia and the U.S.

Amber said the M&S PV array is designed by SBC Renewables and the Mark Group, a specialist commercial rooftop installer, will perform construction.

20-year PPA

Amber Group said it is acting as sole funder for the 6.1 MW rooftop, with M&S purchasing the electricity generated through a 20-year PPA.

The UK’s rooftop market prospects were highlighted last week at Solar Energy UK, in Birmingham, England.

A wider consensus, though, was expressed that post-April, investors will limit rooftop projects to 4.99 MW because projects larger than 5 MW completed after March will receive subsidy payments under the government’s new Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme which investors have not yet seen in action.

A report published this week by Solarcentury and real estate investment firm JLL says commercial PV rooftop installations can help businesses reduce running costs, meet government targets and increase building value.

Supermarket giant Sainsbury’s is another British retailer installing PV rooftops in large numbers with more than 200 PV systems across its stores already.