Retail food outlets are thought to use around 3% of the total electrical energy consumption in the UK and 1% of the total GHG emissions. Energy consumption is measured by a supermarket’s business practices, store format, product mix, shopping activity, equipment types, food preservation facilities and display. (lighting, freezers etc) Supermarkets are known for consuming a huge amount of energy, and are growing in size and quantity year on year, which is rapidly increasing this consumption.
Supermarket giant Sainsbury’s has claimed that it already generates its own power for 10 of its supermarkets and already plans to provide energy for another 6. It was revealed that new power plants have been constructed due to the emerging concern about the future of the energy industry in Britain. Sainsbury’s senior executive Paul Crewe, has said he actually has trouble sleeping because of the arising energy security fears.
There were various news pieces about a few of Sainsbury’s stores being powered by food waste and gas but it’s been kept fairly under the radar just how many of Sainsbury’s supermarkets are being innovative with their power sources. These new gas power generators would provide the 10 stores with the ability to continue operating in the event of a blackout.
According to Mr Crewe, “UK grid infrastructure is at an extremely stretching period of time” and he’s not wrong. Ofgem Chief Executive Andrew Wright has warned Britain that in just two years’ time, the UK could be plunged into darkness. Stored electricity supply is falling drastically and is potentially worse than anyone originally presumed. The increase of demand for power and making ‘green’ energy the new focal point could have led the UK into an energy crisis unless urgent action is taken, according to Ofgem.
Desperate measures have been put in place to provide back up amid these revelations, including ministers planning to invest in the recreation of “mothballed” oil and gas power stations, enabling more production of power.
But why is energy security as important to Sainsbury’s as it is to National Grid and Ofgem? According to Sainsbury’s, they own just under 1% of the country’s power by operating over 1,200 stores across the UK. Britain is currently reliant on connection from Europe and also receive gas from the Baltic and Russia and believes being able to generate its own power allows Sainsbury’s to feel prepared for the future. Sainsbury’s save their inedible food waste that are not suitable for humans or animals to consume and it’s converted into biogas. This is great because as a supermarket, the amount of food and drink on the shelves that goes to waste is astronomical.
Sainsbury’s has now been named as one of the global leaders on climate action and has become the first supermarket to use CO2-only refrigerant trucks, which allows the supermarket giant to reduce pollution. So, why are its competitors such as Tesco and Morrisons not making these same preparations?