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Sainsbury’s has revealed a strong lack of faith in the British National Power Grid, when it was revealed this week that they have built a series of dedicated gas-fired power plants for use by their supermarkets. The decision to commission the private power plants, it was revealed, was fear of a looming energy crisis that the UK grid won’t be able to handle.
Director of Sustainability at Sainsbury’s, Paul Crewe, said that the worry over energy security “kept [him] up at night” and that he feared the UK’s demand for electricity may soon outstrip the national grid’s capacity to supply it.
The new power generators operate off of biogas generated by Sainsbury’s waste food, and already supply all the electrical needs of 10 Sainsbury’s locations, with a further 6 plants due to finish construction and come online this year. These power generators, Mr. Crewe says, will prove extremely valuable for Sainsbury’s in the event of a blackout. Should power to an area be lost, they will be able to continue trading, and unless other supermarket giants begin to install private generators, they will be the only ones trading during the blackout.
Mr. Crewe doubled down on his doubt of the national grid at a press conference earlier this week, where he said the generators “give us energy security. Energy security is extremely important, it keeps me awake at night if I’m honest thinking about it – especially as we use just under one per cent of power in the UK. We know UK grid infrastructure is at an extremely stretching period of time.”
He also raised concerns that the UK is too reliant on “interconnectors from Europe and gas from the Baltic States and Russia” for its energy.
“Having the ability to generate our own power at a local level gives us surety of supply at these locations as the availability of electricity becomes more stretched across the national grid infrastructure, with demand potentially outstripping supply in the near future,” he said.
Continuing, he assured stockholders and customers alile that the new generators, which provide both electricity and heat for the supermarkets, will be profitable in their own right, and will help Sainsbury’s fulfill its obligations to the environment sooner. They are an environmentally-friendlier option than any of the alternatives available to Sainsbury’s, since their waste food, if it is not fit for human or animal consumption, is sent to biogas digestion plants to be converted into biogas. After that, the gas is pumped into the national gas grid, and Sainsbury’s buys back an equivalent amount of gas for its power plants.
In response to his revelations, the Department of Energy and Climate Change released a statement reassuring customers that the National Grid was reliable and that the risks Sainsbury’s are preparing for are minimal. A spokeswoman went on record saying “Keeping the lights on is non-negotiable. We will continue to work closely with National Grid and Ofgem to ensure hardworking families and businesses have access to secure and affordable energy supplies they can rely on.”