Greggs bakes in solar power
Bakery chain says solar panels totalling 1.28 megawatts will cut carbon emissions 25% by 2015
Britain's largest bakery chain is cooking up some impressive carbon and energy savings, after it unveiled a series of major new solar installations.
Greggs has installed photovoltaic panels at 10 sites across the UK, in a move that it says will help slash its carbon emissions by 25% by 2015.
The 10 projects have seen a total of 1.28MW of capacity installed on bakery roofs, providing renewable power to the energy-hungry ovens that are used to bake the company's famous cakes and pasties.
Stephen Weldon, social responsibility manager at Greggs, said that in addition to energy bill and carbon savings the company would also benefit from feed-in tariff payments.
"As a responsible business, we have a duty to manage our energy consumption by becoming more energy efficient in our bakery and retail operations," he said.
"The installation of PV panels on our bakery roofs provided the perfect opportunity to make use of a previously unused [roof space], take advantage of the government's feed-in tariff scheme and generate carbon-neutral electricity for use in the bakeries, and, therefore, reduce the amount of fossil fuel we need to buy and consume."
He added that the PV installations will also help to boost Greggs' reputation as a company that is seeking to keep a handle on rising energy prices and carbon emissions.
"Solar PV one of the most reliable renewable energies on the market, with proven technologies operating across the globe," he said. "Installation makes a visible and public statement of an organisation's sustainable credentials, and provides a very reliable payback in terms of energy savings as well as the guaranteed and index-linked FIT scheme."
The solar panels will help Greggs meet a target to cut its carbon emissions by one quarter per £1m of turnover from 2010 to 2015, alongside energy efficiency measures in both its shops and bakeries.
The company has also this year been striving to boost its recycling rates to 90%, up from 80% last year.
Solar Home Financing 101: What’s a Solar Power Purchase Agreement (Solar PPA)?
There’s one more popular solar financing method, and it’s called a solar power purchase agreement or (solar PPA).
A solar PPA is similar to a solar lease, but with one difference: Instead of a flat monthly payment that estimates your solar production, you only pay for the solar energy actually produced by your solar system—and at a lower price than your utility’s power rates.
To see why this is valuable, we have to talk about utility rates. (Sorry!) Utilities measure your energy usage in kilowatt-hours (kWhs), and you may pay your utility anywhere between about 10 cents per kWh to as much as 45 cents per kWh, depending on your area and your usage. With electric rates like that, your bill can add up to hundreds of dollars a month, especially in California, Hawaii, and other states with tiered electric rates.
And that’s where solar comes in. With a solar PPA, those higher rates are replaced with a flat solar PPA rate that’s always less. So, instead of paying for dirty and expensive kWhs from your utility, you’re paying for cheaper, clean solar kWhs generated from your roof.
And there are even more advantages to a solar PPA:
No up-front costs. Like a solar lease, you can go solar with no money down, although you can get an even lower solar PPA rate (and more savings) if you pay a little bit up front.
Free maintenance and repairs. You also get free maintenance, solar monitoring, and insurance on your solar system, so no repair costs to worry about.
A transferable contract. Also like a solar lease, you don’t own the solar system, but are purchasing a 20 year service contract that is transferable. So, if and when you move, the new owner will benefit from the home’s solar energy savings. At the end of the contract, you or the new buyer can purchase the system at fair market value, or have the solar PPA company uninstall it for free.
Also similar to a solar lease, there may or may not be an annual escalator of 2% to 3%, depending on the area where you live and the solar PPA provider. But your utility rates will usually rise by that amount too, so your savings will stay the same throughout the contract.
So, how much will you actually save with a solar PPA? The answer is thousands of dollars over the course of 20 years, but to find out exactly how much, you need to get a free, no-hassle solar PPA quote for your home. It’s really easy and takes just 20 minutes, so worst case, you learn about the solar PPA savings for your home.
8 0ctober 2013
Energy Minister Greg Barker said the U.K. can multiply its capacity to produce solar power eight-fold by 2020 in an effort to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
Barker said he’s consulting with companies about how the government can achieve its forecast of having 10 gigawatts of solar power within the next decade and thinks 20 gigawatts is achievable, up from 2.4 gigawatts at the end of June. In Birmingham, he said he will deliver a strategy for solar power in the spring of 2014 after assessing industry views.
“I believe we can go faster and further,” Barker said in a 38-page solar power strategy documenttoday. “Along with many in the industry, I think that up to 20 gigawatts of deployed solar is not only desirable but also potentially achievable within a decade.”
Prime Minister David Cameron’s government already is fighting a backlash against wind farms, which local groups say blight the landscape, and to check power prices that have risen to pay for the spread of renewable energy. Ed Miliband, the leader of the Labour opposition, pledged last month to freeze utility bills if his party wins the election due in 2015.
“New solar installations must be sensitive to public opinion and mindful of wider environmental and visual impacts,” Barker said in the text of a speech issued by his office in London. “The impacts of deployment on grid systems balancing, grid connectivity and financial incentives will also have to be considered, ensuring the challenges of deploying high volumes of solar PV are addressed.”
By working with companies, Barker said the U.K. will be able to speed up progress toward grid parity, where solar power can compete with fossil fuels without relying on subsidies.
Solar capacity has risen from 94 megawatts at the end of 2010, according to Barker’s Department of Energy and Climate Change. Ministers identify the technology as one of eight that can help Britain meet its European Union target of getting 15 percent of all energy from renewables by 2020 and meeting a domestic goal to cut emissions 34 percent in the three decades through 2020.
In today’s strategy document, the energy department said solar deployment must be cost-effective, cur carbon dioxide, and be appropriately sited. Assistance to the industry must take into account its effects on balancing the power grid, the government said.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at [email protected]