Mega-retailer and solar power leader Tesco has unveiled plans to install PV arrays on one hundred more of its UK stores in only the next three years.

A flurry of new PPAs signed in recent weeks with renewables investors including existing partner Atrato Onsite Energy promises an added power yield of as much as 20GWh of clean electricity from under-used roofs, advancing the retailer’s ambition of carbon neutrality across its operations by 2035.

Five stores have been earmarked for installation to begin before the New Year.  The first, Thetford in Norfolk, has already seeing more than 1,000 panels affixed as part of a PPA with Atrato.  Four more – Stevenage, Wisbech, Kings Lynn and  Stockport – will follow within days, each promising site-specific yields of between 275MWh and 660 MWh a year.

The retailer’s renewed solar rush builds on its 40 stores already fitted with rooftop photovoltaics.  The new 20GWh target adds to over 10.5GWh already flowing in 2023 from the retailer’s estate, the equivalent of 3,800 homes’ consumption.

Continuing enthusiasm for rooftop PV installation from high-profile brands like Tesco will encourage a joint government-industry taskforce seeking faster solar take-up by Britain’s notoriously risk-averse commercial landlords.  Working groups convened by trade body Solar Energy UK are scheduled to cease their nine-month drive in February.

Through a mixture of direct sourcing and renewable certificates (REGOs), Tesco has beaten by a massive ten years its former 2030 deadline to switch to 100% renewable electricity. Direct sourcing such as PPAs and use of its own sites as generators are now its focus in sourcing  the majority of its low-carbon renewables.

Through partnerships with operators EdF and BayWa r.e., Tesco sources dedicated wind power from four Scots turbine farms; Burnfoot East, Inverclyde, Halsary and West Benhar.

In 2009 the grocery group became the first business globally to set a goal of zero-carbon operation in all three scope categories by mid-century. In 2019, it committed to go faster and reach Net zero target in the UK by 2035, fifteen years early.

Ken Murphy, Tesco’s group CEO said: “As we all face into the effects of climate change, scaling up our use of clean renewable energy has never been more important.

Advised by Good Energy founder Juliet Davenport, Atrato Onsite says it is Britain’s biggest provider of behind-the-meter solar PV.  Its fully funded business model offers clients better asset exploitation for no capex outlay.

Its managing director Gurpreet Gujral said: “Tesco has made impressive progress in its ambitious journey towards Net Zero. We are proud to be working together to deliver the next phase of a solar rollout across their portfolio“.


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