Sainsbury's yesterday announced it has installed its 100,000th solar panel, taking its total installed capacity to 22MW and providing clean energy to 210 stores across the country.

The company has been undertaking solar rooftop projects as part of its 20x20 sustainability plan, which aims to deliver 20 environmental commitments by the end of the decade, including a pledge to cut total carbon emissions 30 per cent against a 2005 base line.

It said that the latest milestone means that it has cut emissions by 9,785 tonnes a year, while cementing the supermarket chain's position as the largest multi-roof solar generator in Europe.

Paul Crewe, Sainsbury's Head of Engineering, Sustainability, Energy, stressed that the solar arrays were part of a wider strategy to install a range of clean energy technologies and enhance energy efficiency across its estate.

"We've achieved a 9.1 per cent absolute reduction in electricity use over the past four years in our supermarkets, despite a 25 per cent increase in space, and we're really seeing the benefits from using our underutilised space for solar panels, and from the other renewable technologies we've installed," he said.

"We believe they are fundamental to the sustainability of our business and there is a strong commercial case for using each technology. They are helping us cut carbon emissions and energy bills and achieve the environmental targets we set ourselves in our stretching 20x20 Plan. It's good news for the environment and is supporting job creation in the UK's renewable energy sector."

The announcement was timed to coincide with a visit by Climate Change Minister Greg Barker to officially launch the new ground source heat pump at the company's London Colney store, making it the 12th Sainsbury's supermarket to install the renewable heat technology.

The rollout of ground source heat pumps at 12 stores follows Sainsbury's successful world-first use of the geo-thermal technology at its Crayford store, enabling it to supply 30 per cent of its energy from on-site renewable sources. It has also installed 74 biomass boilers since 2008, which use wood pellets - a renewable resource - to heat stores rather than using fossil fuel-based gas.

"I'm delighted to be here at Sainsbury's London Colney store to officially launch its new ground source heat pump and to hear more about how the company is using energy more wisely, cutting emissions and powering its stores with clean green energy," Barker said. "Not only is Sainsbury's increasing the amount of stores heated by renewable sources, it's using solar panels on its roofs to generate energy too, with over 100,000 panels now up and running on over 200 stores."

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