Large enough to accommodate 11 football pitches, the 83600 sqm massive photovoltaic solar array is envisaged to generate 5,000 MWh of green renewable energy per year, the equivalent to power nearly 1,200 dwellings. If arranged end to end, the 24,272 PV solar panels would stretch 25 miles, almost as long as the London Marathon. The massive solar array will help the British retailer to lower its carbon footprint by 48,000 tonnes over 20 years.
The initiative is an additional step forward in M&S’s commitment to supply its UK and Ireland buildings from 100% renewable energy sources, of which 50% provided from small scale types of renewable energy technologies by 2020. It falls within the retailer’s strong sustainable business plan, called Plan A 2020, comprises 100 commitments to reduce the business social and environmental footprint as well as a number of actions to make its buildings more sustainable.
Launched in 2007, M&S’s journey to embed sustainability in its core business has helped the company to achieve remarkable targets:
- No waste to landfill:100% of operational waste generated from store, offices and warehouses is recycled;
- Zero net carbon emissions: UK and Ireland stores are sourced from 100% green electricity;
- Energy & water savings: Significant reductions were allowed through energy (-31%) and water (-39%) efficiency improvements;
- Renewable energy supplier: M&S is the first UK retailer to source bio-methane gas;
- BREEAM excellent rating: sustainable design principles and procurement were incorporated into the development of several major stores.