Sainsbury's sees surge in solar supermarkets

A Scottish solar company has become one of the largest rooftop installers in the UK after fitting over 36,500 PV panels across 115 Sainsbury’s stores in a matter of months.

Renewable Resources started deploying the 50kWp and 150kWp systems at Sainsbury’s stores in the south of the country on November 17 and completed the job last week, delivering a total of 6.9MW of installed capacity for the supermarket giant

Among the 115 stores was Sainsbury’s flagship Ely store, which, as part of the retailer’s recently announced 20 by 20 sustainability plan, sources around 30 per cent of its energy from onsite renewables and uses half the amount of grid electricity as standard stores.

Speaking on the sidelines of the EcoBuild Show in London, Paul Gribben, chief executive of Renewable Resources, told BusinessGreen that Sainsbury’s main focus had been on delivering the estimated 3,100 tonnes of annual carbon savings that will result from the solar arrays, rather than beating the recent deadline for a cut in solar subsidies.

The extent to which the retailer will benefit from the feed-in tariff incentive scheme remains uncertain, as the government is still awaiting the result of the latest court decision which will determine the rate available to systems installed between December 12 and March.

Gribben said he was bullish about the future for Renewable Resources, despite the government’s decision to cut incentives from March and its controversial move to cut them again in the summer.

He said the company had installed 10 per cent of the 10kw to 100kW system market across the UK last year, and was now looking to secure more corporate contracts and expand operations overseas.

“We have contracts signed with other blue-chips,” Gribben said, without revealing any company names. “And we’re expanding into the US, launching next month in Stamford, Connecticut.”

While many solar companies are reporting falling sales due to the uncertainty created by the ongoing battle over feed-in tariff levels, Gribben is confident subsidies are still at a level to attract public sector bodies such as councils and schools.

“I believe the cost of the modules themselves dropping coupled with feed-in tariff payments still offer good returns,” he said.

You can return to the main Market News page, or press the Back button on your browser.