Supermarkets look to generate own electricity

Suzie Neuwirth
SUPERMARKET chains are increasingly looking to generate their own energy, as a means of securing supply, cutting costs and reducing their carbon emissions.

FTSE 100-listed Sainsbury’s “will continue to invest in low-carbon technologies including solar panels for stores and depots in 2014,” a spokesperson told City A.M. The retailer opened two carbon-neutral stores late last year, where an onsite generator provides all of the store’s electricity and heating using natural gas.

There are solar panels on the roofs and all waste is recycled or turned into fuel.

Meanwhile Waitrose is also looking at expanding its own energy generation, a spokesperson said. It recently opened a shop in Chipping Sodbury that has a biomass-powered boiler.

Jo Butlin, managing director of energy consultancy Utilyx, said that supermarkets tend to be the trailblazers when it comes to new initiatives and that she had seen an increasing number seriously considering energy generation.

Other energy-intensive industries, such as large high street stores, restaurants and hotels, are also mulling the move, she added.

The cost of energy and security of supply are high-profile issues at the moment, due to rising wholesale costs, government levies and increasing consumption. Regulator Ofgem has warned that the risk of a major power blackout will rise toward the middle of the decade as ageing generators reach the end of their life-span.