Year 11 | 13 December 2019 | TO ENTER | TO REGISTER

Supermarkets to develop into local energy hubs

Supermarkets designed to go ‘off-grid’ may also offer a glimpse into a future where retail outlets act as local energy hubs. A Waitrose store in the Isle of Wight in southern England is due to open a biomass power plant later this year.

The Waitrose store will be fuelled by locally sourced woodchips that will supply the building’s electricity, cooling and heating needs. Furthermore, the store has been designed with extra capacity, so as to have the potential to supply heat to local housing and becoming an energy hub.

Energy efficiency measures and onsite renewable technologies are becoming increasingly prevalent in supermarkets around the UK. A biomass boiler, among other technologies, has enabled Sainsbury’s to add an extension to its Durham store while reducing the outlet’s overall carbon emissions. The extension at the Sainsbury's Durham store, that opened in March last year, added 50% more space to the building, but energy required to run the new larger supermarket fell by 10%.

A biofuel generator at Tesco’s zero carbon supermarket in Cambridgeshire exports excess energy back to the grid. Paul van Heyningen, Tesco Climate Change Manager, said that such flagship developments were especially important to trial new technologies before incorporating them to stores elsewhere.

According to Martin Hunt, Head of Built Environment at Forum for the Future, decentralised power generation improves energy security, but the most exciting part of the Waitrose project comes from the prospect of a supermarket helping to power the community.

Hunt added that for this kind of projects in supermarkets, planning and design issues rather than technical ones, are often the main obstacle to overcome. So, practical examples which work will all help build confidence in the wider prospects of such local energy hubs.

by S. C.
23 february 2011, Food & Fun > Nature