Tesco to switch to 100% renewable electricity this year in UK and by 2030 worldwide

'We are witnessing an incredible transition away from fossil fuels,' says solar panel firm

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The Independent Online

Tesco has announced it will run 100 per cent on renewable electricity in the UK and Ireland this year and worldwide by 2030 in a move which one solar panel company said would create “huge demand” in the sector.

The supermarket giant said it was announcing “tougher science-based carbon reduction targets for its stores and distribution centres to help combat climate change” in a statement on its website.

It said in the past 10 years it had spent more than £700m in energy efficiency, reducing its carbon emissions by 41 per cent and also cutting its electricity bill by £200m a year.

In addition to buying green electricity, Tesco also plans to generate its own.

The managing director of Bristol-based firm Solarsense said the supermarket’s move “will challenge their competitors to follow”, helping to create a surge in demand.

The British solar industry has been brought to its knees by red tape, the withdrawal of almost all subsidies – which fossil fuels continue to enjoy on a massive scale – and an astonishing 800 per cent domestic business rate hike.

Some have questioned whether the Government is attempting to kill off the industry just as it becomes the cheapest form of power.

In its statement, Tesco said: “As a food retailer, our supply chain and long-term business success depend on the health of the natural environment. 

“As citizens and members of the community, our customers and colleagues expect Tesco to play its part in caring for the planet.” 

This had led the company to adopt “tougher targets to help Tesco contribute to limiting global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees”.

“To achieve these tougher targets, we aim to source 100 per cent of our electricity from renewable sources by 2030,” Tesco said.

“Our interim milestone is to source 65 per cent renewable electricity by 2020. This switch has already begun in our two biggest markets, UK and Thailand. 

“From 2017, we'll switch to 100 per cent renewable electricity in the UK and Ireland, supported by renewable certificates.

“In Thailand, we invested £8m in on-site solar generation in 2016, with plans to grow this in coming years.”

Its suppliers would also be encouraged to “set credible science-based targets” to limit global warming to 2C.  

Stephen Barrett, managing director of Solarsense, said where Tesco led other firms would likely follow.

“We are witnessing an incredible transition away from fossil fuels to generating electricity from renewable resources such as wind and solar,” he said.

“Tesco is one of the first key players to recognise the financial and environmental benefits. 

“It is going to buy in renewable electricity from wind (onshore and offshore) and solar parks. Then generate the rest on site from solar and store any spare electricity in batteries.

“This will challenge their competitors to follow, resulting in huge demand for renewable energy together with technical advances in the market. It is very exciting times and great news for the environment.”