Sainsbury's opens new 'people-powered' storeGreen energy from store car park powers checkouts

15 June 2009


Shoppers at a Sainsbury's store in Gloucester will help to power it themselves using green technology pioneered by the supermarket giant.

The supermarket chain's first 'people-powered' store will use kinetic energy generated by customer vehicles in the car park to power its checkouts.

Sainsbury's is installing 'kinetic road plates' at the new store which opens this Wednesday - making it the first store of its kind in Europe.

Kinetic energy capture

Whenever a vehicle passes over road plates positioned in the car park, the energy generated by the vehicle - energy which would otherwise be wasted - is captured and used to help power the store.

The road plates are expected to produce around 30kW of green energy each hour - more than enough to power the store's checkouts. The system does not affect the car or fuel efficiency, and drivers won't feel the plates as they drive over them.

If successful the scheme, designed for Sainsbury's by Peter Hughes of Highway Energy Systems, could be expanded to other stores in the future.

Supermarkets going green

Supermarket brands including Tesco and Asda have also made forays into renewable energy schemes. Tesco is trialling wind and solar energy generation, while a new Asda store in Bootle uses a range of energy-efficient measures to make it 50% more efficient than a typical Asda.

A recent study, the UK Supermarkets 2009 Carbon Benchmark Report said that food stores were taking the issue of climate change seriously and had been making positive steps to meet green commitments.

Meanwhile we've also got a comprehensive review of online supermarket offerings in our reviews section, and advice on green issues in Which?'s section.

'Cutting-edge technology'

Alison Austin, Sainsbury's environment manager, said: 'This is revolutionary. Not only are we the first to use such cutting-edge technology with our shoppers, but customers can now play a very active role in helping make their local shop greener, without extra effort or cost.

'We want to continue offering great value but we also want to make the weekly shop sustainable. Using amazing technology like this helps us reduce our use of carbon and makes Sainsbury's a leading energy-efficient business.'

Green store

The new store in the Gloucester Quays development will also trial several other energy saving schemes, including harvesting rainwater to flush the store's toilets and using solar thermal panels to heat the store's hot water during the summer. During the store's construction, over 90% of the waste building material was reused or recycled.

David Sheehan, director of store development and construction at Sainsbury's, said: 'The new environmental features within the Gloucester Quays store mark a very exciting time in store development.

'We are able to use cutting-edge technology to improve our services and the store environment for our customers and colleagues, at the same time as ultimately reducing our carbon footprint across the UK.'

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