M&S invites customers to invest in community solar project
Marks & Spencer (M&S) has launched a unique collaborative initiative designed to generate renewable electricity from solar panels installed on the retailer's stores.
In partnership with community energy organisation Energy4All, the M&S Energy Society encourages its members to invest between £100 to £100,000 towards solar panels which will be installed on up to nine stores in Hayle, Torbay, Cheshire Oaks, Southampton West Quay, Longbridge, Banbury, Cheshunt, Hempstead Valley and Truro. The retailer will then buy back the energy to power its stores, which will result in a reduction of CO2 emissions released.
The total installation across the 9 stores will reach 891kW in solar PV arrays resulting in a reduction in carbon emissions equivalent to approximately 425 tonnes of CO2 every year over the lifetime of the project.
M&S Plan A project manager Lydia Hopton said: “This project is a great opportunity for customers to invest in green energy and help the environment, while also supporting local community groups. We’re really excited that M&S will be the first retailer to launch a scheme of this kind”.
Energy Society members are expected to receive return on their investment targeted at an annual rate of 5% for the first three years, with the first payment being made in September 2017. Any remaining funds are invested back into the community as part of M&S Energy Society’s social and environmental commitment.
Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) Minister Lord Bourne said: “This new initiative from M&S is an excellent example of private enterprise working with its customers to produce clean, green energy and support local community groups. I would urge other companies to follow suit.”
Year of progress
The project aims to help deliver M&S’s overarching green energy commitment to ensure that 50% of electricity used in its UK and Ireland building operations comes from small-scale renewable sources by 2020.
In March 2015, M&S completed the installation of the UK’s largest single roof mounted solar panel array on its East Midlands distribution centre in Castle Donington.
Last month, M&S Energy launched the second edition of its Community Energy Fund to offer local energy projects across the UK up to £350,000 in funding.
M&S’ Plan A sustainability programme capped off another hugely successful year of progress with the firm announcing that nearly three-quarters of products now have an ‘eco’ or ethical quality; retail food waste has significantly declined, and energy and water efficiency have greatly improved.
Speaking exclusively to edie, M&S’s director of sustainable business Mike Barry said that this Plan A update serves to highlight the retailer’s continued evolution of sustainable business and a heightened ambition in three particular areas – human rights, localisation and collaboration.
M&S at the edie Resource Revolution Conference
M&S’s Kevin Vyse is speaking at the edie Resource Revolution Conference to discuss “tackling the plastic packaging conundrum”.
Taking place on the 5 July, the Conference provides resource management, sustainability, waste, product, supply chain and design professionals with tools they need to rethink their approach to resource use and waste outputs, drive organisational efficiencies, behaviour change and profitability, and effect a revolution in their company’s sustainability credentials.
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