Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Green Retailing Memo: United Kingdom's Sainsbury's Plans to Power Store With New, High-Tech Wind Turbines

The United Kingdom's second-largest grocery chain, Sainsbury's, plans to erect three high-tech wind turbines in the parking lot of its proposed supermarket in the town of Westhoughton, which is located in Greater Manchester, England, if it can get approval from the local planning authorities.

The wind turbines would stand about 30 -to- 45 feet tall. Sainsbury's plan is to locate them in the parking lot of the proposed Westhaughton supermarket. [The artist's rendering at the top of the page shows one of the turbines at the front, far right, next to the orange and blue sign.]

The site for the proposed, partially wind-powered new Sainsbury's supermarket, is on the grounds of the Westhoughton Cricket Club. The 70 year old Cricket Club would be demolished by Sainsbury's to built its new, high-tech wind-powered supermarket. The Cricket Club plans to move to a new home not far away, as it says it needs a more modern facility.

The modernistic-looking wind turbines Sainsbury's hopes to be able to install in the proposed stores' parking lot are called 'QR5" turbines, and made by a company called Quiet Revolution Limited. They are a new generation of wind turbine, designed to be faster, quieter and to cause far less vibrations than a traditional model.

According to Quiet Revolution Limited, each turbine costs 25,000 euros and provides 10% of the energy for a 600 square meter commercial building. The new-age turbines also save a considerable amount of carbon dioxide emissions annually since they are a renewable energy source.

Sainsbury's hopes the three stainless steel wine turbines can provide the proposed supermarket with as much as 30% of its total energy needs. Since the wind energy is renewable, not only will the store have a dramatically-reduced carbon footprint and conserve fossil fuel-based energy, but it should also provide the retailer with a substantial reduction in its monthly energy bill for the Westhoughton supermarket.

Westhoughton was once a major coal mining town. In fact, the community has the distinction of once hosting one of the worse coal mining disasters in the UK. In December, 1920, 344 men and boys lost their lives in a cave-in at the Pretoria Pit coal mine. British historians say it was the third-worse coal mine disaster in the UK's history.

Having a new supermarket powered in part by renewable wind power in the town would not only show respect for the community's energy producing history and heritage, it also would demonstrate progress. The partially wind turbine-powered supermarket could stand as an example of the slow but sure progression the world is making from dirty fossil fuels to cleaner alternatives, like wind, solar, biomass and other forms of renewable energy.

We urge the town of Westhoughton to approve the new-age wind turbines despite the complaints of some in the community regarding their aesthetics. We believe they actually are aesthetically pleasing to look at. The sleek turbines even make a statement, like all good art should.

That statement: 'progress through renewable energy globally.' The turbine's design--minimalist and sleek, reaching towards the sky--symbolizes progress. The constant turning of the three turbines' blades by the wind demonstrates daily the power of mother nature to supply energy. And, the turbines' location in the parking lot, which will be filled with fossil fuel-powered automobiles, is a constant reminder to all that it's time to find alternatives to oil.

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