Waitrose’s East Cowes store on the Isle of Wight has become the first UK supermarket to receive most of its heating, cooling and power from sustainably-sourced local woodchip.

The innovative technology means the shop will cut its carbon emissions by over 750 tonnes per year, the equivalent to 1500 transatlantic flights. There will even be capacity in the future to heat local homes and community facilities.

The energy centre, developed by Waitrose and energy services company, MITIE, will also generate £150,000 every year for the local economy in the form of new jobs and through the purchasing of the wood chip.

Local schools and interested parties will be able to find out more about the process at the visitor centre, which forms part of the building where the energy centre is housed.

Waitrose East Cowes already has a number of ‘green’ initiatives incorporated into its design such as propane-based refrigeration technology that reduces energy usage by 20 per cent.

In addition, it uses ‘sun pipes’ throughout the store to let natural light in until it gets dark and a cold air-retrieval system instead of air-conditioning.

This all forms part of the retailer’s commitment to reducing its absolute carbon footprint by 15 per cent by 2020 – based on its 2010 emission levels and including the creation of new stores.

Richard Tudor-Thomas, branch manager at Waitrose East Cowes, said: “We’re delighted to be involved in such an innovative way of powering our store that helps place us at the heart of the community and ensures that we tread as lightly as possible.

“By sourcing our energy from a green and local source, the energy centre not only significantly reduces our carbon footprint and our reliance on the national grid, but allows us to contribute more to the Island community which we serve.”

For more on-site renewable power news