First Renewable develops UK’s largest solar PV roof for M&S

Marks & Spencer has commissioned the UK’s largest solar PV roof at its new 1 million sq. ft Distribution Centre in Castle Donington, near Nottingham.

The record-breaking PV installation represents the UK’s largest single roof mounted solar panel array.

It also marks a significant step in M&S’ renewable energy strategy and commitment to sourcing 100 percent of its electricity for its buildings across the UK and Ireland from renewable sources - M&S has pledged that by 2020 it will source 50 percent of its electricity in the UK and Ireland from small scale renewable sources.

The solar PV roof will also make a significant contribution to lowering M&S’ overall carbon footprint as it will singularly reduce its carbon emissions by 48,000 tonnes over the next twenty years.

It will provide in the region of 25 percent of the overall energy required for the fully automated distribution centre, which is large enough to hold eleven football pitches.

The 24,272 PV panel structure installation – which if laid end-to-end would cover 25 miles - spans the M&S Castle Donington site’s 20 acre roof with a 6.1MW peak, and will generate an equivalent amount of energy to power 1,190 houses.

Commenting on the record-breaking installation, Hugo Adams, Director of Property at M&S, said: “The completion of this project is hugely exciting for everyone at M&S. It is the first significant step in a number of solar energy initiatives we are planning this year. The scale of the project demonstrates our ambitious goals and long term commitment to onsite renewable energy.”

Tony Watkins, Chief Executive of First Renewable, commented: “When First Industrial delivered the building, the steelwork was purposively reinforced to accommodate the extra weight of the solar panels. The project demonstrates that with the right partners there doesn’t have to be a choice between ‘cash or carbon’ – in the current market, occupiers can have both”.

Amber Rudd, Minister for Energy and Climate Change, added: “There is massive potential to turn our large buildings into power stations – and this is a great example of how businesses can reap the benefits. More rooftop solar means more jobs - and will also help deliver the clean, reliable energy supplies that the country needs at the lowest possible cost to consumers.”

A Power Purchase Agreement has now been agreed with leading infrastructure specialist Amber Infrastructure, which will run for 20 years, with commitment from M&S to purchase all the electricity generated by the solar panels.

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