The UK’s largest retailer Marks & Spencer has signed the biggest renewable energy contract in that country’s retail sector history. The contract with npower will provide M&S with enough renewable electricity over six years to ultimately power all of the retailer’s stores and offices in England and Wales.
Under the landmark contract, which begins in April 2009, npower will supply M&S with electricity from its portfolio of renewable sources, which includes wind and hydro farms. Uniquely the contract also allows for a significant amount of the supply to be purchased directly from independent generators of renewables, meaning that M&S can continue with its pioneering drive to encourage the development of small-scale renewable electricity.
The contract is a major step towards the company’s goal to become carbon neutral through reducing energy usage, sourcing renewable power and using offsetting only as a last resort. Since 2006/07, M&S has already reduced its electricity consumption by over 6% and sourced over 30% of its electricity from renewables, including five distributed generation sites featuring wind turbines, anaerobic digestion plants and small hydro schemes.
Richard Gillies, Director of the company’s energy Plan A said: “Securing this contract with npower is a major achievement for M&S. Not only does it significantly move us towards our goal of using 100% renewable electricity across our stores and offices, it also strengthens our market-leading commitment to encouraging small third-party generators, including some of our own suppliers, to develop renewable electricity. This is a viable secondary business opportunity for many farmers – who can be confident that M&S will purchase, via npower, any renewable electricity they generate.”
Local Wind Farmers to Benefit
Grant Mackie was one of the first farmers to benefit from M&S’ drive to develop renewable power sourced from small third party generators, when he launched the first M&S wind turbine on his farm in Aberdeenshire in July 2007. Grant now has three fully operational wind turbines on the same site.
Grant Mackie commented: “I am very pleased that M&S have structured their supply agreement with npower in a way that allows renewable distributed generation to be purchased direct from farmers. Over many years, M&S have developed a close working relationship with their farming supply base. This is now being extended to those farmers investing in renewable energy developments. Farmers are continually being advised to diversify, yet there are several barriers to investing in renewables and it can be a costly process. The encouragement from M&S is really welcome.”
All of M&S’ existing renewable energy contracts with small distributed generators will be integrated into the new npower contract when it commences in April 2009.
Kevin Miles, Retail CEO at npower said: “Marks & Spencer’s objectives to lower emissions mirror our own: npower has already announced investments of over £2 billion on greener power stations to reduce its ‘carbon intensity’ by around 33% by 2015** and we’re committed to helping our customers reduce their own energy consumption and CO2.