Tesco have unveiled ambitious new plans to generate energy on-site at 50 of its UK stores, it revealed earlier this month.
Making decentralised energy generation is a key part of the strategy to halve the carbon footprint of its existing estate by 2020.
Lucy Neville-Rolfe, Corporate & Legal Affairs Director, said: “At Tesco, we care about the environment and want to lead the way in preparing for a low carbon future. We are now ready to unveil the scale of our plans to use Combined Heat and Power to cut our carbon footprint.”
Combined Heat and Power (CHP), works by making use of the heat that is created when electricity is generated. In large power stations, this heat is dispensed as a useless by-product but by installing mini-power stations, Tesco will use the heat to warm its stores.
Dr Doug Parr, Policy Director for Greenpeace said: “As part of their responsibility to tackle climate change, it’s vital that big companies choose to put money into the most efficient technologies available. Combined heat and power stations are a clear winner in this respect.”
The technology is completely safe and can cut carbon emissions from each store by up to 10%. By building 50 of these stations, Tesco will save the equivalent energy bill of five stores. Testing of CHP has been underway since 2006, with plants currently working at 10 sites.
The chain expects investments in CHP to be paid back within 8 years as the technology is refined and the market matures. Lucy Neville-Rolfe added: “We are applying for planning permission to build a CHP plant at all our larger stores and intend to build them as an integrated part of every new Extra or Superstore. Our trials have shown us that this is a much more efficient way to create electricity so it makes sense – both financially and environmentally – for us to put our full weight behind it.”
Most of Tesco’s CHP stations will run on gas but last month it opened a plant at its Colney Hatch store which runs on bio-fuels such as UK-grown vegetable oil. As vegetable oil is a renewable material, the CO2 emitted is equal to the amount it has absorbed whilst growing, making the energy used in the store carbon neutral.
As well as supporting the store’s heating needs, the Colney Hatch plant is used to produce cooling too. Chilled water is produced supporting the energy needs of refrigeration and air conditioning systems.
Greenpeace also believe: “ In these tough economic times, this kind of canny investment is more important than ever, as the move will slash costs as well as emissions”.