Supermarket giant, Woolworths, has chosen Canberra, Australia as the launchpad for its new renewable energy generation technology programme. Yes, supermarkets and petrol stations are going solar!

The Australian Government has thrown its support behind the Woolworths programme which will first launch at petrol stations in Belconnen and Hume in the country’s capital. The retailer said it was the first major retail company in Australia to generate on-site renewable energy.

Solar panels will be installed on the canopy of the two Woolworths petrol stations in the new year. About 15 per cent of each site’s energy needs could be generated through the panels, reducing dependence on coal-based electricity.

Woolworths’ director of corporate and public affairs, Andrew Hall, said a total 60 kW of solar power generation capacity would be installed at the two stations. “The solar panels to be installed at Woolworths petrol stations in the ACT will potentially generate enough energy to operate both the lighting for the store and the bowsers,” Hall said.

He said the ACT Government was to be congratulated for being the only Australian state or territory to put in place gross feed-in tariffs with business incentives, a payments structure for renewable electricity generators which made the installation of the solar panels commercially viable. “Woolworths is committed to significantly reducing its carbon emissions and so we welcome the ACT’s decision to back commercially viable on-site renewable energy generation. This is the type of policy framework which other states could introduce to drive the necessary incentives for business to have commercial-scale installation,” said Hall.

“If more companies are encouraged to invest in renewable technology, the more the costs of this technology will fall. But at the moment costs are prohibitively high and incentives like the ACT gross feed-in-tariff are needed to give renewable energy generation a kick start and reduce our dependence on coal generated electricity.
“If all States followed the ACT’s lead and introduced gross feed-in tariffs that benefited businesses Woolworths would certainly look at rolling out this exciting new technology to locations nationwide, potentially pumping significant amounts of clean electricity back into the grid,” he said. “Retailers often have expansive roof spaces that should be perfect for capturing the sun’s rays, a clean resource Australia has in abundance.”

Woolworths’ investment in renewable technology is part of the company’s commitment to reduce its carbon footprint on projected growth by 40 per cent by 2015 maintaining 2006 levels.

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