Sainsbury’s supports calls for more rooftop solar

Sainsbury's head of sustainability Paul Crewe has thrown the supermarket's weight behind the argument for more rooftop solar in the UK, as a new report reveals the positive financial impact PV arrays are having on commercial properties.

Having overseen the installation of 135,500 PV panels across Sainsburys’ stores nationwide, Crewe noted that commercial rooftop solar is an ‘ideal’ opportunity for businesses to reduce their environmental impact and save money.

“Sainsbury’s is now the largest multi-roof solar panel operator in Europe,” said Crewe, “And we will have 170,000 panels generating 40MW by spring 2015.

“This is key to enabling us to take control of our energy costs and minimise our environmental impact and achieve the environmental commitments we made in our 20 by 20 Sustainability Plan. Supermarkets have the equivalent of football fields on their roofs, many of them underutilised so it is ideal for turning that space into something positive.”

Video: Sainsbury’s goes So-Lar


Crewe’s comments were endorsing a new report released today (22 October) by Solarcentury and commercial estate agent JLL. (Scroll down for full report).

New wave

Entitled Solar PV: Shedding Light on the Opportunities, the report finds that installing rooftop solar is beneficial because it can reduce running costs, help meet government targets for building performance and increase the value of the property by providing additional income streams.

Moreover, the report indicates that the installation of rooftop solar will help businesses to meet Government targets for improved building performance and boost property value by providing additional income.

Solarcentury’s chief executive Frans van den Heuvel said: “Whilst most of the growth to date in the rooftop solar market has been at the domestic and utility scale, there is strong evidence that commercial and industrial customers are now turning to solar, helped by the fact the technology is ready and now importantly, attitudes are changing too.

“A new wave of leading brands are going solar – Sainsbury’s, Google, Mars, Ikea and Apple among them – and this is undoubtedly stimulating the market. And with over 80% of the British public consistently supportive of solar, consumer awareness for companies choosing solar will only increase.”

Untapped resource

JLL director in valuation Chris Strathon added: “This is the first in-depth research into understanding the impact of solar and it is clear the majority of commercial roof space is untapped as an additional revenue provider.

“The research is timely given the recent surge in demand for solar on commercial roofs, driven by new legislation and increasing awareness of the opportunity to monetise the large unused roof spaces of commercial properties.

“We believe rooftop solar on commercial property adds value by improving the marketability of a property to occupiers who are driven by cost or CSR objectives, and additional income which is received via power purchase agreements and government-backed tariffs.”

Earlier in October, a seperate study from Kingspan Energy revealed that installing solar PV on just 61% of the nation’s 2,500km2 of south-facing commercial roof space would meet the total electricity demand of UK companies.

REPORT: Shedding Light on the Opportunities

Brad Allen

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