Marks & Spencer is building the UK’s largest array of rooftop solar panels on its distribution centre in Castle Donington.
Spread across 900,000 sq ft with more than 24,000 photovoltaic panels, the system will generate nearly enough energy in daylight hours to power the distribution centre which handles all the goods M&S sells via its online store.
The retailer’s investment in solar follows a trend towards investing in renewable energy among British retailers. Tesco topped the distribution centre for its now defunct US venture Fresh & Easy with the country’s largest rooftop solar panel in 2007 while Sainsbury’s is the largest rooftop solar operator in Europe. Sainsbury’s will have installed 170,000 panels above stores and distribution centres by the spring.
The schemes help retailers keep control of energy costs, make unused space productive and meet environmental promises which consumers and government increasingly expect businesses to live up to.
M&S is aiming to take half of the electricity used in its buildings from renewable sources by 2020. It has already signed deals to buy renewable energy from anaerobic digestion plants, which make energy from organic waste, and plans to finalise a number of other solar projects in the next year.
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