Tesco to get power from straw

Tesco is planning to improve its environmental credentials and cut its carbon footprint through an innovative biomass technology.

The multiple has been given the go-ahead to build Britain's first-ever straw-powered Combined Heat and Power plant, to meet the electricity and heating needs of its Goole Distribution Centre.

The new plant will generate 5MW of electrical power - enough energy to run eight Tesco Superstores. All excess electricity will be sold back to the grid.

David North, Tesco community and government director, said: "We've set ourselves stretching targets to reduce the carbon intensity of our business, and energy from renewable sources is a key part of our strategy. We've identified five sites that would be suitable for further biomass technology, and are making big investments in wind turbines too."

Straw is a pure, natural material and a by-product of local farming. As straw is a renewable material, rather than a fossil fuel, the CO2 emitted is equal to the amount it has absorbed while growing, effectively making the energy carbon-neutral. The only waste created is ash, which can be used by other industries, or passed back to the local farmers to be used as a fertiliser.

Tesco estimates that it will have recouped the £12m set-up costs within six years. After this time, energy generated by the plant will cost the supermarket less than is currently charged for grid electricity.

Building work at the supermarket's distribution centre in Goole will begin shortly, and the power plant will be operational later next year. The supermarket has also submitted a planning application to build a second small-scale biomass plant at its Livingston distribution centre.

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