M&S turns to biogas for renewable revolution

Marks & Spencer (M&S) has agreed a landmark deal with a major biogas plant operator for the purchase of biomethane certificates which will reduce the retailer's carbon footprint by more than 6,400 tonnes.

The certificates will help to generate the equivalent amount of energy to heat 15 M&S Simply Food stores all year round

The certificates will help to generate the equivalent amount of energy to heat 15 M&S Simply Food stores all year round

The deal, struck today (8 September) with Future Biogas, sees M&S purchase 35,000 Mega-Watt hours (Mwh) of certificates, which represent the 'bio' element of biomethane produced at anaerobic digestion (AD) plants. The certificates will help to generate the equivalent amount of energy to heat 15 M&S Simply Food stores all year round.

"Over the past couple of years, M&S has worked tirelessly to improve its carbon efficiency and innovate in sustainability," said M&S' head of energy supply & risk Gio Patellaro. "As the first UK retailer to buy biomethane to use in this way, we are blazing a trail in the market place that we hope others will follow.

"With the help of Future Biogas, this deal takes us one step further in our commitment to ensure 50% of the energy used in M&S buildings comes from certified green biomethane sources by 2020."

Traceability

Biomethane gas is 50% more carbon efficient than average gas supplies and is generated by AD fuelled by farm waste. The biomethane gas will be produced at the £8m Vulcan AD plant near Doncaster, using non-commercial crops from farms across Yorkshire and the North East.

The Biomethane Certification Scheme (BMCS) that M&S has signed up for is an independent certification scheme run by Green Gas Trading (GGT), a private limited company.

Future Biogas' managing director Philipp Lukas said: "We believe it is essential to provide the right traceability of biomethane's green credentials, which is why we are delighted that M&S has echoed this sentiment through their decision to buy the majority of our biomethane certificates.

"We hope to further benefit as GGT broadens the market and continues to facilitate links between green gas producers and buyers."

Maximising value

Charlotte Morton, director of GGT and chief executive of the Anaerobic Digestion & Biogas Association (ADBA), added: "We are delighted that M&S has joined Future Biogas, Tamar Energy and other AD operators to become a shareholder in Green Gas Trading (GGT), following significant due diligence to test the robustness of the systems and processes behind GGT's Biomethane Certification Scheme.

"GGT was established with our backing to ensure that the benefit of the 'green' element of biomethane is retained by the producers, not the shippers or suppliers, thus maximising its value, which will be vital for AD developers as tariffs digress."

M&S has been a leader and innovator in supporting a renewable energy generation since the inception of its 'Plan A' programme, which sees the company looking to increase its energy efficiency targets from 35% to 50% per square foot, with 50% of the energy used in UK and Ireland stores is sourced from small-scale renewable sources by 2020.

Luke Nicholls
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