Sainsbury's in Hythe branch is a just a little special
its a smart grid supermarket. It uses innovative technology to not only dramatically cut its carbon use but also reduce its demand on the national grid. Less demand for peak electricity means less pressure on high-carbon reserve power stations – reducing the CO2 footprint of not only the store but also the country.
While reducing peak demand cuts carbon today, Sainsbury's is also mindful of the future. It is using Hythe as a test bed to learn and prepare itself for a time when electrical availability, carbon intensity and the cost of power may differ across the day.
In a future where power cost changes depending on the time of day, commercial users of power will need to learn to be smarter and more flexible about when they use electricity. Sainsbury's "smart grid ready" system at Hythe is already there.
The Hythe store is one of a number of carbon step change supermarkets developed by the company and the first result of a partnership with Imperial College and the Grantham Institute for Climate Change.
This academic approach has meant that the energy use of complex operations has been accurately mapped. Specialist IT systems reduce Hythe's heating, ventilation and lighting systems at peak times – helping to ease the strain on the local and national grid.
For example, the store uses night blinds on chiller cabinets saving up to 140 kWh and £20 per week – significant when multiplied by over a 1000 sites 52 weeks of the year. Chillers and freezers can be run slightly colder during the night and allowed to come to target temperatures during the day – using the same amount of energy but more importantly being less carbon intense as they are not drawing on peak electricity power.
The partnership has also looked closely at daylight hours and light intensity. This has resulted in lower lux levels being introduced at different times of day.
Within six months levels have been reduced from 800 to 650 lux with a corresponding 12% energy reduction on Hythe's baseline. This innovation is now being rolled out to 89 stores.
other supermarket chains are available