Here comes the sun as Preston supermarket switches to solar panels

Retail giant Morrisons is to rely on Lancashire sunshine to help power its store on Preston Docks.

By Brian Ellis
Tuesday, 17th May 2022, 3:06 pm

The supermarket chain has been given the green light to install more than 1,100 solar panels on its roof to generate up to 20 per cent of the building’s electricity needs.

The panels will run its fridges and freezers - the in-store equipment which requires the most energy.

The switch to solar is part of a national drive by the Morrisons group to hit its target of becoming carbon net zero by 2035 - five years earlier than originally planned.

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Morrisons with its distinctive lighthouse tower on Preston Docks

To boost that effort the Bradford-based company is building a its own solar farm which will include 230,000 panels, cover almost 125 acres - the equivalent of around 70 football pitches – and help power its estate of almost 500 stores.

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All the major players in the food retailers' business are making similar attempts to hit net zero across the UK.

The Morrisons application in Preston follows a recent announcement that Sainsbury's is also targeting net zero by 2035. The company has been accelerating its solar power programme with a £320m investment in green technology.

The flat roof of the Morrisons store which will house more than 1,100 solar panels (Image: CPA Consulting Engineers).

Tesco says it aims to hit net zero by 2035. It is investing in onshore wind farms and is looking to fix solar panels to 187 of its stores.

Asda has pledged to halve its emissions by 2025. Aldi UK claims it is already carbon neutral, although the firm relies on carbon offsetting to maintain that status.

Waitrose is working towards a net zero deadline by 2050. The Co-op is aiming to halve its emissions by 2025. And Lidl is installing solar panels at all of its new stores.

The Morrisons store on Preston Docklands has a largely flat roof and lends itself to solar panel installation. The panels would all be set at a 10 degree tilt, but council chiefs say glare will not affect neighbouring businesses and residents.

Morrisons' store on Preston Docks is to switch to solar power.

A report by a planning officer says the roof panels have been sited "so as to minimise its effect on the external appearance of the building and the amenity of the area".

It would not have any "unacceptable detrimental impact in terms of glare on the occupiers of neighbouring land".