Our Sainsbury’s partnership can help put renewables on the corporate agenda

19 July 2012

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There’s no hotter topic for discussion at the moment than the renewable energy sector. With the introduction of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), the UK Government has shown its support of renewable heating technologies, such as heat pumps and biomass boilers and as a result we are seeing strong growth in both sectors.

One could argue that this support for renewables is long overdue. According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), heating accounts for almost half of total UK energy consumption and 77% of energy use across all non-transport sectors. In terms of carbon emissions, heating accounts for 46%.

The UK Government’s commitment to achieve 15% of its energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020 is now impacting businesses of all sizes, and as a result, many larger companies have set themselves, or have been set, tough carbon reduction commitments.

One way that commercial properties with large heating bills can lower their costs is through the installation of ground source heat pumps (GSHPs). These pumps draw on heat that is stored in the ground, thus displacing the need for traditional and expensive gas boilers.

By removing the need for gas boilers, GSHPs can assist in achieving the Government’s targets for renewable energy, and help companies meet their own targets. But there’s an investment angle here too. The technology used for GSHPs also attracts a 20-year Government subsidy, thanks to the RHI. Put that together with no up-front cost of installation, and you have an attractive offer to companies and a compelling investment opportunity.

All of which meants that Octopus is pleased to announce a partnership with leading retailer Sainsbury’s to install GSHPs into several of their stores, as part of its innovative renewable energy strategy. Sainsbury’s is committed to reducing its own carbon emissions by 30% by 2020. Octopus funding will enable Geothermal International, the market leading designer and installer of GSHPs, to install pumps across a series of stores.

The renewable energy sector is expanding rapidly. We are also encouraged by the Government’s decision to retain Feed-in Tariff eligibility of EIS/VCT investments in anaerobic digestion and hydroelectric power. As a result, we are beginning to see significant development of projects in these sectors right across the UK. Considerable funding will therefore be required over the next 12-24 months, and this means Octopus, with its experience and track record in solar, is ideally placed. We’ll keep you posted on further renewable investments from Octopus and future developments within this exciting new investment area.

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