An increasing number of large retailers, retail parks and shopping centres are investing in on-site power generation and energy storage to enhance the customer’s retail experience.
A survey of over a thousand businesses by Centrica Business Solutions reveals that 77 per cent of UK and Irish businesses expect to be producing a quarter of their electricity needs on-site by 2025.
Nonetheless, there is still a long way to go to close the gap between ambition and action. While 29 per cent of businesses have a formal energy strategy, far fewer back this up with specific targets or budgets.
Likewise, while half (52 per cent) of respondents cited back-up power as important, just 18 per cent have plans to address this and only 16 per cent have targets to link the use of sustainable energy to their brand – this despite 49 per cent of respondents valuing this linkage.
The ever-rising cost of grid electricity has seen the potential for on-site power generation and energy storage gain acceptance by energy-intensive retailers.
The average energy consumption of shopping centres is about 300 kWh per square metre. According to the Financial Times February 2018, UK electricity costs are a third higher than in Europe, partly because of the oligopoly of six major utilities but also because Europe’s markets benefit from better interconnections, cross-border trading and long-term supply contracts.