Image credit: Dave Highbury, used under Creative Commons license.
Supermarket chain Sainsbury's has already started turning waste food into electricity, keeping bees at its flagship eco-store, delivering groceries by barge and even selling solar panels at its stores. Now the chain is rolling out innovative smart grid technology across 200 stores that could cut carbon emissions by as much as 11000 tons a year.Retailers Compete for Green
Sainsbury's has long been positioning itself as a leader in more sustainable retail. So this latest initiative is just one in a long line of efforts to reduce its emissions. With the gigantic Cooperative Group recently launching a massive ethical business strategy, it really does seem like there is an arms race going on between British retailers for who can be the greenest.
Trial Technology Rolled Out
Business Green reports that, only days after announcing it has been trialing smart grid technology at one of its stores, Sainsbury's publicly committed to installing "dynamic demand management technology" in 200 stores. By monitoring the energy usage of heating, cooling and appliances, and powering them down when appropriate, the system not only cuts direct energy consumption—but also tailors that consumption to meet the supply coming from the grid, thus reducing the carbon intensity of each unit of energy consumed:
The company's device responds automatically to second-by-second changes in the balance between supply and demand on the grid and aligns the timing of the heating and cooling systems to match them. RLtec predicts that if rolled out widely, the technology will reduce the need for backup power which would otherwise be required to balance out variable renewable energy output. This reserve typically uses coal or gas power stations that offer predictable, but carbon-intensive, energy.
This is all part of an ambitious plan to cut the company's carbon emissions 25% by 2012. Let's hope it provides some impetus for others to follow.
More on Sainsbury's Sustainability Initiatives
Sainsbury's to Turn Waste Food into Electricity
Supermarket Keeping Bees at its Eco-Store
Supermarket Delivering Groceries by Barge
Selling Solar Panels at the Supermarket