Co-op hints at biomass rollout following pilot

The Co-operative has become the latest major retailer to make the switch to biomass with the adoption of the renewable heat system at one of its supermarkets in the Scottish Highlands.

A new 130kW biomass boiler is being installed as part of a £540,000 refit of the Co-op in Caol, Fort William; to replace the store’s ‘ineffective’ electric heating and save on operating costs.

The boiler, which runs on wood chip supplied by waste wood products and local forestry, is expected to make an annual saving for the store of almost half of its existing energy bill and more than 90 tonnes of carbon emissions.

The system will also attract over £13,000 a year through the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive, meaning the capital cost will be recouped within five years.

More stores

The Co-operative Food regional energy manager Martin Lowe said that this switch to biomass could be replicated across other Co-op stores, if this first implementation is successful.

“It’s the first time we’ve installed a biomass system into one of our stores, and if this pilot works well then we will consider introducing them elsewhere,” said Lowe.

“As a community retailer this sort of system is ideal for us. Not only is it environmentally-friendly, and cost-effective, but working with a Fort William-based supplier (HW Energy) means we’re also able to boost the local economy as well.”

Local and sustainable

The biomass boiler’s installer HW Energy will provide ongoing, fuel, service and maintenance in a comprehensive heat supply contract which guarantees fixed pricing backed by performance guarantees.

HW Energy managing director Bruno Berardelli said: “It’s the perfect example of keeping things local and sustainable. Switching to biomass allows retailers like The Co-operative Food to save up to 40% on their heating costs and be environmentally sustainable. Through our heat supply service, we are able to provide heat and hot water at a guaranteed cost removing unforeseen energy price fluctuations.

Co-op follows a line of supermarket chains and retailers that have made the biomass switch in recent years, including Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, M&S, John Lewis and Asda.

Luke Nicholls

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