Grocery retailer Sainsbury’s is using experimental technology to help reduce the UK’s dependence on fossil fuels. Many people are unaware of the strain the National Grid comes under at peak times, as coal-fired power stations across the country have to be ‘switched on’ to meet the increased demand on the UK’s electricity supply.
Power station malfunction and the unpredictability of wind power can also cause changes in supply to the grid, but such changes could become more manageable thanks to the innovative ‘Smart Grid’ system at the new Sainsbury’s store at Hythe in Kent.
The system monitors the grid and activates the store’s biofuel generator when there is an increased demand for electricity. As a result, reserve power stations will not have to be used as much and the UK’s carbon footprint will be reduced.
The generator is the first of its kind and will be powered by waste oil and fat from Sainsbury’s stores to act as an auxiliary power source. Additional technology in the store will reduce strain on the grid further by deactivating or reducing the store’s heating, ventilation and lighting systems at peak times.
The introduction of the Smart Grid system is part of Sainsbury’s environmental stores programme, through which the company invests in environmental technology to drive energy and carbon efficiency in an effort to lessen the impact of climate change. Technology trialled in environmental stores is often rolled out to future store developments as standard.
Sainsbury’s has been at the forefront of environmental store development for many years. It was the first retailer to use anaerobic digestion at scale to dispose of food waste, and opened the first store to be heated and cooled using geo thermal energy last September.
The creation of the Smart Grid store is the first major output of Sainsbury’s partnership with Imperial College London’s Faculty of Engineering and Grantham Institute for Climate Change. The partnership, which launched last year, was created to develop technologies and solutions that will help Sainsbury’s lower its carbon footprint to help it meet with future climate change legislation, and continue to be the UK’s greenest grocer.