John Lewis switches to 100% renewable energy

Retail giant joins the ranks of Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Ikea by investing in clean technology to cut emissions

(Pic: John Lewis)

(Pic: John Lewis)

The John Lewis Partnership (JLP) is the latest UK retailer to commit to reducing carbon emissions by switching to renewable energy.

More than 380 stores as part of the JLP, which includes Waitrose supermarkets and John Lewis sites, will be supplied with 100% renewable electricity by energy supplier SmartestEnergy starting January 2015.

Nigel Keen, director of property services for the John Lewis Partnership, said in a statement that this will help in cutting emissions across its supply chain.

“As a responsible retailer, the Partnership aims to source sustainably across its supply chains and this agreement provides us with full transparency over where our energy is coming from.

“Working with SmartestEnergy means we can support independent renewable generators and contribute to progress towards the UK’s target for 15% of energy demand to be met from renewable sources by 2020.”

Under the agreement, electricity will be purchased from independent generation projects, including a wind turbine at family-run Dewlay Cheesemakers in Lancashire; the Rainbarrow Farm anaerobic digestion project in Dorset and the Udny Community Turbine in Aberdeenshire.

Robert Groves, CEO at SmartestEnergy, said this was his company’s biggest contract to date.

“This agreement is good news for the growing number of independent renewable generators in the UK as continued expansion in demand for green energy ensures they have a route to market for their power.”


John Lewis has set itself a goal to reduce carbon emissions by 15% by 2020 based on 2010 emissions.

In a recent interview, Toby Marlow, general manager of sustainable development at the John Lewis Partnership said the principle major taken by the Partnership has been to improve its refrigeration system.

“We think leaked refrigerants is a big no-no, so we’ve stepped out the traditional refrigeration systems and developed our own system. We designed the system so that the heat ejected from the refrigeration cases now heats the sales floor space. That has reduced our gas consumption by around 70% per store.”

Waitrose was recently commended by the London-based European Investigation Agency in turning away from refrigeration units which use potent greenhouse gases known as HFCs, or hydrofluorocarbons.

JLP will be able to deliver its carbon mitigating plan using both renewable electricity and energy efficiency measures, Marlow said.

“We’re currently looking at photovoltaics and we’ve also looked at ground source heat pumps and biofuel-driven CHP. The flip side of that is that we need to make sure that we are financially sustainable as well.

“So the renewable solutions have to achieve the same return on investment that energy efficiency projects do. If I had a million pounds to spend on photovolataics or LED lighting, I’d choose LED lighting because that gives me a better return on investment.”


JLP joins other retailers like supermarket chain Sainsbury’s which is Europe’s largest rooftop solar operator.

Retailer Marks and Spencer topped UK-based carbon management firm Carbon Clear’s ranking of the carbon performance of the FTSE 100.

The top 10 performers were Marks and Spencer, BT Group, National Grid, Aviva, Unilever, Reed Elsevier, TUI Travel, Sainsbury’s, BSkyB, British Land, Barclays, Whitbread and HSBC.

Not to be outdone, on the other side of the pond, Walmart topped the US Solar Energy Indistry Association’s 2013 solar capacity rankings with 89.43MW installed capacity.

The research revealed that the 25 companies, including Apple and IKEA, with the highest total solar capacity as of August 2013 have deployed more than 445MW at over 950 different facilities, enough to power 73,400 American homes.

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