Solar panels

Solar panels and our commitment to renewable energy

Tuesday 21st November, 2023

With the impacts of climate change becoming clear, businesses are recognising the need to take proactive measures to reduce their carbon footprint. At Marshalls we have a great track record in doing what we can to minimise our impact on the environment and this extends much further than our product mixes, packaging, and manufacturing methods. We’ve put in place a number of initiatives that are having a demonstrable reduction on our carbon footprint and we continue to look at new ways to achieve our ambitious carbon reduction goals.

When it comes to renewable energy, we’re proud to say that all the electricity we purchase from our energy supplier comes from renewable sources and we're making substantial progress by integrating solar panels into our operations.

Following the installation of solar panels at our Sandy and Sittingbourne sites, we’re delighted to say that in 2023, we also successfully installed solar panels at our St Ives site in Cambridgeshire. We forecast that this system will generate power for the next 25 years.

What is renewable energy and how does it differ from fossil fuels?

Renewable energy comes from sources that will not be used up in our lifetimes, such as the sun and wind. This offers a sustainable alternative to traditional fossil fuels which are non-renewable, unsustainable and contribute significantly to climate change.

Fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas, are finite resources that took millions of years to form. They’re extracted from the Earth at a much faster rate than they can be replenished. When burned for energy, they release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Solar electricity panels, also known as photovoltaics (PV), capture the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity.

Other examples of renewable energy sources include wind turbines and hydropower. Wind energy harnesses the force of the wind to produce electricity using turbines, while hydropower captures the energy from flowing water.

Renewable energy sources provide a clean and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. They don’t deplete over time, and their utilisation doesn’t contribute significantly to the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change. Embracing these alternatives is not just an environmental choice but a long-term investment in the health of our planet and future generations.

So, why are we installing solar panels?

At Marshalls, we recognise the urgency of transitioning to cleaner energy sources to reduce our carbon footprint and combat climate change. Installing solar panels at our sites helps us to meet our science-based targets, whilst also reducing our dependence on the electricity grid.

Marshalls was the first construction materials company in the UK to have its carbon reduction targets approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) back in 2020. Science-based targets are specific and quantifiable goals set by companies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in alignment with the scientific consensus on climate change which aims to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

Although we currently purchase renewable source electricity from the grid, this may not always be viable and so by installing solar panels, we’re not only taking action to support our science-based targets, but we’re reducing our reliability on the electricity grid, becoming more self-sufficient and have greater control of our destiny.

How much energy do we anticipate getting from these solar panels?

At St Ives, the forecast is that in the first year of installation, this will generate approximately 642,188 kWh of electricity for our site. Ofgem estimates that a typical two-three bedroom household in Britain uses 2,700 kWh of electricity a year, so this could meet the electricity demands of the equivalent of approximately 230 homes for a year.

Sustainability Advisor, Lauren Taylor said, “Across all three sites where we’ve installed solar panels, we expect that in 2024 we will generate approximately 1 million kWh of electricity. Our investment in solar energy showcases our dedication to reducing our carbon footprint and is a testament to Marshalls’ values in shaping a more sustainable landscape for our communities.”

The future

While we proudly claim that 100% of the electricity we purchase from our energy supplier comes from renewable sources, this isn’t exclusively derived from solar panels. The electricity from the grid is backed by Renewable Electricity Guarantees of Origin (REGOs) to guarantee that our energy allocation is entirely sourced from renewables. We’re currently assessing the feasibility of introducing solar and other renewable technologies across our estate in line with our sustainability goals.

We take great pride in our proactive approach to combat climate change and reduce our environmental impact. From the integration of solar panels across key sites to the alignment with science-based targets, approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), we continue to explore new avenues to further reduce our carbon footprint. For more details on our sustainable business practices, you can find out more here.

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