M&S doubles renewable energy sourced from Farmers

Posted on 26 March 2011

Marks & Spencer (M&S) today announces that the volume of renewable energy it buys directly from small scale suppliers, such as farmers and landowners, has doubled in the last 12 months.

M&S is now directly sourcing an average volume of 5GWh of ‘green’ energy per month from small scale suppliers – this is equivalent to the electricity used by 100 M&S Simply Food stores. The energy is sourced from 25 small scale suppliers across the UK and uses a range of renewable technologies including wind farms and small scale hydro projects.

As part of Plan A, its ethical and environmental programme launched in 2007, M&S is committed to procuring 100% ‘green’ electricity by 2012 and improving the percentage of small scale energy sources that it uses.

M&S encourages small scale suppliers, from both within and outside of its supply base, to build capacity to generate renewable energy by signing a five year fixed price contract to procure the electricity. This contract, known as a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), offers the supplier a stable source of additional income that can help them to secure funding to build their renewable energy projects or be invested into other projects.

One of the small scale suppliers working with M&S is Hammars Hill Energy, a wind farm located on the north of mainland Orkney. Since January this year, M&S has procured an average of 1.4GWh per month from the five wind turbines at the Orkney site.

The vast majority of Hammars Hill Energy is owned by local shareholders in Orkney. The largest single shareholder is The Orkney Islands Council Reserve Fund who will use the income generated from the sale of the renewable energy to fund local services. After one year’s generation at the site, an additional £10,000 will be paid annually to the local Community Council.

Mervyn Bowden, Head of Energy Management at M&S, said: “Sustainable business makes good business sense. Growing the amount of directly bought renewable energy from small scale suppliers, such as Hammars Hill, reduces our impact on the environment and helps us reduce the risk within our own energy portfolio.”

Richard Jenkins, Chairman of Hammars Hill Energy, commented: “Getting funding for these types of small-scale renewable energy projects can be a complex process, we were delighted with M&S’ approach which allowed us to present a strong business case to the banks. The wind turbines are fully up and running and we’re pleased with the support we received throughout the development.”

Convener of Orkney Islands Council, Stephen Hagan, said: “We’re pleased to see the Hammars Hill turbines delivering a steady stream of ‘green’ energy and as shareholders we look forward to seeing Orkney benefit from the Council’s investment.”