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Kingfisher, J. M. Smucker Supercharge Renewable Energy Ambitions

Kingfisher plc, the international home improvement company, has unveiled plans to install energy storage batteries at B&Q’s Swindon distribution center. The installations form a key part of Kingfisher’s aim to reduce grid energy consumption across its UK property portfolio, and are the latest milestone in Kingfisher’s strategic roadmap for sustainable growth to 2025, moving the company towards its goal of becoming net positive by 2050.

Solarcentury, Kingfisher’s renewable energy partner, will manage the installation with batteries supplied by Samsung. The system will complement an existing biomass boiler and chipper, which will provide renewable heat for the site. The installations will help the company reduce its overall carbon emissions while controlling its cost base and delivering commercial returns. Kingfisher already purchases 100 percent of its UK electricity from renewable sources.

Reducing grid power consumption by almost a third

Kingfisher’s Swindon distribution center uses 3.5MW of power per year on average and is already powered by solar energy from 552 rooftop solar panels. Currently, roughly 35 percent of the power generated by the solar panels at the site is exported back to the grid as surplus. The batteries will store this energy and release it back to the building to provide power during periods of peak pricing; the timed release of energy can also support overnight operations, when the solar panels are dormant. The batteries will reduce the site’s grid power consumption by 31 percent, with some days using zero grid energy to power the site.

“Ten years ago, B&Q committed to cutting its absolute carbon footprint by 90 percent — we have to date achieved 41 percent carbon reduction and cut our electricity demand by 47 percent,” said Christian Mazauric, CEO of B&Q UK & Ireland. “The installation of energy storage batteries at the Swindon distribution center marks an important milestone in our and Kingfisher’s commitment to reduce grid energy consumption. UK energy prices aren’t going down. Battery energy storage will help us to better manage the energy we generate on site and will move us even closer to our sustainability goals.”

Powering electric car charging points for customers

Each rack for the Samsung batteries is the size of a large domestic fridge-freezer. Each has a capacity of 94.5KW, with the total planned capacity equating to 756KW. The system will be able to store 40 percent of the power generated by the solar roof panels and be able to power electric car charging points in the parking lot. Solarcentury will manage the installation, and its ongoing maintenance and monitoring systems. The project is expected to be completed in early September 2018.

The biomass boiler and chipper, supplied by Austrian company Fröling, provides 100 percent renewable heat for the site, heating the offices and meeting the building’s hot water needs. About 180 tonnes of waste wood will fuel the boiler each year, including a large volume of the site’s own wood waste. The biomass boiler will replace 600,000 kWh of gas consumption per year.

Jeremy Parsons, Head of Energy and Renewables at Kingfisher, said: “This investment at our Swindon distribution center reflects our wider approach to energy strategy to help both our business and our customers improve energy efficiency; indeed, many of the energy-saving initiatives we have undertaken in our stores and distribution centers are also being considered by our customers. For example, we are seeing more customers installing solar PVs and moving to battery storage to harness that power for their homes.”

Meanwhile, The J. M. Smucker Company announced on Tuesday that it has entered into a long-term power purchase agreement with Lincoln Clean Energy (LCE) for 60 megawatts (MW) of the utility-scale 230 MW Plum Creek Wind Project in Wayne County, Nebraska. Starting in 2020, the wind energy produced from the Plum Creek project will provide approximately 50 percent of Smucker’s total electricity needs.

“This agreement is an important step forward in our organization-wide effort to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions intensity,” said Julia Sabin, Smucker’s VP of Government Relations and Corporate Sustainability. “In 2017, electricity accounted for more than half our greenhouse gas emissions. This agreement will not only reduce our carbon footprint but will also allow us to make a lasting contribution to our nation’s renewable energy capacity.”

LCE has developed and financed more than two gigawatts of wind power over the last four years and was the largest non-utility developer and owner of U.S. wind power commissioned in 2017.

“In addition to creating high-paying local jobs, the Plum Creek Wind Project will result in over $3 million in local community benefits annually in the Wayne County area,” said LCE founder and CEO Declan Flanagan. “We are excited to begin a successful relationship with The J. M. Smucker Company.”

Schneider Electric Energy & Sustainability Services served as an advisor to Smucker on its selection of Plum Creek.


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