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Eco Retailer Goes Solar

Posted by in Eco News Blog on Jul 28, 2011 . .

Ethical retailer, The Body Shop has installed the largest, self-funded roof mounted solar Photo Voltaic (PV) system in the UK, just before the Feed In Tariffs (FIT) changes amended by the government takes effect at the end of the month.

The 6,355 square meter installation consists of 3,840 solar panels  (roughly the size of 24 tennis courts) and is situated at the Company’s head office site in Watersmead, Sussex.  The Body Shop installation will also likely to be the last large scale PV solar system in the UK to be entirely funded by one organization due to the considerably reduced FIT for schemes greater than 250kWh.  The tariff will now drop from 29.3p per kWh to 8.5p per KwH on 1st August 2011.

Paul McGreevy, The Body Shop International Director of Values commented, “The Body Shop has always pioneered in environmental initiatives, and we are delighted to be able to continue our commitments to protecting the environment.

“We had already made a commitment to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% in our offices by 2015, and the Government FIT initiative has helped us to significantly invest in alternative energy generation, reduce our dependency on the grid and move closer to meeting our goals.”

The government launched Feed In Tariffs two years ago as an incentive for businesses, communities and members of the public to move towards self sufficiency through alternative energy generation, as well as help them meet their commitment to reduce Britain’s CO2 emissions. The initial level of subsidy (29.3p) created huge interest as some organisations saw a significant commercial opportunity. Building large scale solar energy  farms would allow them to claim the subsidy, regardless of the local need. This rush to derive commercial gain from the Feed In Tariffs spurred the government to review.

Paul McGreevy comments on the amended tariffs, “Whilst we understand the need to prevent commercial exploitation of the Feed In Tariffs, we are disappointed that large, self-funded scale installations like The Body Shop, entirely in keeping with the original intention of the initiative, have now reduced considerably in size, postponed or abandoned due to the increased investment.    


“We hope that the government will review again and extend the current Tariff, or at least consider different methodologies to assess the installations to make it more viable as it will be instrumental in reducing the price of solar panels , making it more affordable to more organisations and further encouraging local electricity generation.”

The Body Shop Solar Panel  Installation Facts and Figures:

  • 6,355 sq meters (roughly the size of one and a half full size football pitches or 24 tennis courts )
  • 3,840 solar panels
  • The solar panels  will generate approximately 900,000 kWh of electricity a year  - 25% of the site’s energy which is equivalent to powering the needs of approximately 250 houses
  • 20km of cable (approximately the length of 2,386 Double Decker Buses lined up)
  • 1.25km of aluminum rails (that support the solar panels)
  • Nine weeks to install
  • Investment of £2.8 million and a payback of 7-8 years.

Did you know? The Body Shop was the first UK retailer:

  • To install a wind turbine  at the Head Office in Littlehampton nearly  20 years ago (1992). 
  • To deliberately target the purchase of green electricity  for  stores, offices, and distribution centres (2000). 
  • To campaign for green electricity that raised awareness and encouraged customers to convert to green electricity.  The campaign partnered with Ecotricity – one of the first electricity suppliers to offer a green alternative (2000)


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