A store manager’s initiative has led to one of Britain’s biggest co-operatively owned retailers partnering with The Big Solar Co-op in quest of cheaper, cleaner electricity made on the roofs of its stores.

Accountable to its 700,000 members, Midcounties Co-operative calculates that connecting PV arrays at 29 of its sites stands to save it around £180,000 per year, through generation of 5 million kWh of low carbon electricity.

Sam Webb, pictured, the manager of Midcounties’ Your Co-op store in Lydney, Gloucestershire had the brainwave of introducing his employers to The Big Solar Co-op, in support of the Society’s efforts to generate more green energy.

The site-specific solar generation initiated by Sam is forecast to meet around 5% of Midcounties’ annual power use. In line with the society’s goal of cutting out 40% of its direct green house gas emissions before 2026, the manager’s initiative also stops 290 tonnes of CO2 entering the atmosphere.

Besides supermarkets, Midcounties’ head office on Warwick’s Technology Park, pictured, will also receive PV arrays, as will its premises promoting travel services and childcare.

The society is a leading supporter of community energy in the UK. It has established partnerships with more than 270 renewable community energy projects nationwide through Younity, the society’s joint venture with Octopus Energy.

The Big Solar Co-op, a volunteer-led, not-for-profit social enterprise, wants to install 100MW of community solar projects this decade. The agreement with Midcounties allows both co-operatives to deepen further their commitment to energy generation undertaken by locally-focused community organisations.

Midcounties Co-operative’s head of sustainability Mike Pickering said: “The partnership between ourselves and Big Solar Coop demonstrates the power of co-operation in driving positive change.

“By integrating solar power generation into our operations, we not only reduce our carbon footprint, but also further our commitment to building a fairer, more sustainable and ethical future.

The Big Solar link complements Midcounties’ achievement to boost energy efficiency at its premises, which has cut 11% from its energy use in only twelve months.   It has budgeted a further £800,000 in similar measures this year

The Midcounties Co-op is fully owned by its 700,000 members.  It operates a collection of Your Co-op businesses, including more than 230 Your Co-op Food stores across the West Midlands, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.

Nationwide it also trades under Your Co-op brands covering travel, childcare, broadband and mobile telecoms and energy provision.


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