Marks & Spencer is using crowdfunding to back the installation of solar panels on its stores. The retailer is partnering with Energy4All, a not-for-profit group that helps community groups set up energy co-ops, with the aim of raising £1.23m to put panels on nine large stores including Torbay in Devon, Truro in Cornwall and Cheshunt in Hertfordshire. A new entity, M&S Energy Society, is inviting investments of between £100 and £100,000 to install and own 891kWh-worth of panels for 20 years from which the retailer will buy energy. The group is offering a target interest rate of 5% each year for those who invest. The Energy Society scheme is part of M&S’s plan to source 50% of electricity used in its UK buildings from small-scale renewables by 2020. M&S installed the UK’s largest single array of rooftop solar panels on its distribution centre in Castle Donington in 2014. A number of other retailers have also invested heavily in renewable energy. Sainsbury’s is one of the largest rooftop solar operators in Europe. The supermarket installed more than 170,000 panels above stores and distribution centres as part of a plan to go off-grid eventually. Kingfisher, the owner of B&Q and Screwfix, is putting solar panels on its distribution centres and some stores as part of a £50m investment to cut its reliance on the National Grid. Last year, Ikea, the world’s biggest furniture retailer, pledged to spend £700m on renewables as part of its plan to generate all the energy required by its shops and factories from clean sources by 2020.
Guardian 16th June 2016 read more »