Skip to main content
Kent Academic Repository

Potential for Solar Energy in Food Manufacturing, Distribution and Retail

Tassou, S. and Shilliday, J and Watkins, Richard and DeLille, G (2007) Potential for Solar Energy in Food Manufacturing, Distribution and Retail. Project report. Defra, London (KAR id:52741)


The overall aim of the study was to assess the potential for increasing the use of solar energy in the food sector. For comparative purposes the study also included an assessment of the benefits that could arise from the use of other renewable energy sources, and the potential for more effective use of energy in food retail and distribution. Specific objectives were to: i) establish the current state of the art in relevant available solar technology; ii) identify the barriers for the adoption of solar technology; iii) assess the potential for solar energy capture; iv) appraise the potential of alternative relevant technologies for providing renewable energy; v) assess the benefits from energy saving technologies; vi) compare the alternative strategies for the next 5-10 years and vii) Consider the merits of specific research programmes on solar energy and energy conservation in the food sector.

To obtain the views of the main stakeholders in the relevant food and energy sectors on the opportunities and barriers to the adoption of solar energy and other renewable energy technologies by the food industry, personal interviews and structured questionnaires tailored to the main stakeholders (supermarkets, consultants for supermarket design; energy and equipment suppliers) were used. The main findings from

the questionnaires and interviews are:

- Key personnel in supermarkets and engineers involved in the design of supermarkets are aware of the potential contribution of renewable energy technologies and other energy conservation measures to energy conservation and environmental impact reduction in the food industry. A number of supermarket chains have implemented such technologies at pilot scale to gain operating experience, and more importantly, for marketing reasons, to gain competitive advantage through a green image.

- From installations to date in the UK the most notable are a 600 kW wind turbine at a Sainsbury's distribution centre in East Kilbride and a 60 kWp photovoltaic array at a Tesco store in Swansea.

- The main barrier to the application of renewable energy technologies in the food sector is the capital cost. Even though significant progress has been made towards the improvement of the energy conversion efficiencies of photovoltaic technologies (PVs) and reduction in their cost, payback periods are still far too long, for them to become attractive to the food industry.

- Wind energy can be more attractive than PVs in areas of high wind speed. Apart from relatively high cost, the main barrier to the wide application of wind turbines for local power generation is planning restrictions. This technology is more attractive for application in food distribution centres that are normally located outside build-up areas where planning restrictions can be less severe than in urban areas. In these applications it is likely that preference will be for large wind turbines of more than 1.0 MW power generation capacity as the cost of generation per unit power reduces with the size of the turbine.

Item Type: Reports and Papers (Project report)
Subjects: Q Science
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > Kent School of Architecture and Planning
Depositing User: Richard Watkins
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2015 15:31 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:21 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.