Summary

In 2016 Marks and Spencer worked with Energy 4 All to form M&S Energy Society and give M&S customers and the general public the opportunity to invest in solar panels on 8 M&S Stores located across the UK.  Over £1.15m in investment was raised and the society has over 300 members. 

Income deriving from the electricity generated by the panels is used to repay investors with a targeted return of 5%.Profits are used to fund carbon saving community initiatives via a dedicated Community Benefit Fund.

Over the 20 year life of the panels over £270,000 in community benefit funds are expected to be generated. And, because M&S Energy Society is owned by its members, investors in the panels will have a direct say in how the money will be awarded. Initiatives could range from insulation improvements for community buildings, to helping local residents cut their fuel consumption and save money.

The Solar Arrays installed varied in size from 50kw – 250kw and overall over 800kw were installed.  

As well as delivering cost and carbon savings to Marks & Spencer, the project also engaged a previously untapped audience for community energy in the retailer consumer. Through instore, online and mailings direct to customers, M&S used their brand to raise awareness of community energy and encourage investment through instore and online channels and through direct mailings to customers. Installation of the panels was managed for M&S Energy Society by JoJu Solar.

“There were more positive economic, environmental and social benefits to M&S supporting community energy, compared to a traditional investment model. The project was a great opportunity to engage our landlords and customers in renewable energy.”

Locality: Nationwide

Asset Owner: Marks & Spencer

CEG: Energy 4 All set up and is administering the M&S Energy Society for the project

Tech Used: Solar

Benefits for M&S

Benefit 1: Ability to install solar on 8 stores without capital investment

Benefit 2: The solar arrays will help to reduce Marks & Spencer’s carbon footprint by over the next 20 years

Benefit 4: Visible contribution supporting community energy innovation

Benefit 5: Innovative way to engage customer base in Marks & Spencer’s sustainability plans

 

 

 

 

Community energy benefits

Benefit 1: Replicable model that other retailers could use to utilise community investment in renewables 

Benefit 2: £270,000 generated over lifetime of the project for local energy initiatives with investors in the M& S Energy Society having direct input into how these will be spent 

Benefit 3: Raises awareness of climate change and engages new people in shift to low carbon energy system

How it was Funded

The panels were funded through a community share offer administered by Energy 4 All.  The project did benefit from the Feed-In-Tariff but the model could still work in post FiT world with the right sites and energy loads attached.  £1.15 million was raised in just 3 weeks.