green energy

combating climate change

Wind turbineAs part of The Co-operative Group, The Co-operative Farms plays an integral part in the Group’s commitment to green energy. 

The Co-operative Group has pioneered a range of renewable energy initiatives and 99% of the electricity used by our 4,000 outlets is sourced from good quality renewables, including wind and water-power.

Since 2005, we've operated an eight-turbine wind farm on Co-operative land at Coldham, Cambridgeshire and in July 2012 a seven-turbine extension, named Whitemill Wind Farm, began generating electricity. A 10-turbine wind farm on third party owned land in Biggleswade in Bedfordshire is under construction and will be fully operational by the end of 2013. We have also secured planning permission for a 14-turbine wind farm on Co-operative land in East Yorkshire. The Biggleswade project has been financed by The Co-operative Bank and the Co-operative Group will purchase all the electricity generated. In total, these projects will generate an estimated 184,000MWh a year, equivalent to over 18% of our electricity requirements, or enough electricity to power 45,000 homes.

We have supported micro-generation technologies for a number of years; on our own buildings, through our Green Schools Revolution, through support provided by The Co-operative Enterprise Hub and through our Community Energy Challenge. As part of our Green Schools Revolution Campaign, school children will have the opportunity to visit the site and learn about an operational wind farm. Our commitment includes the £5.5m Solar Tower project in Manchester with over 7,000 photovoltaic panels, and the combined heat and power plant (CHP) in our flagship new building 1 Angel Square (see below). In 2011, The Co-operative Bank pledged to extend commercial lending for energy efficiency and renewables to £1bn. By the end of 2012, we had committed over £820m.

Our new support centre, 1 Angel Square (1AS), Manchester, completed early 2013, is heated by our own-grown rapeseed oil. The Combined Heat & Power system (CHP) is essentially two V12 engines that use rapeseed oil as a fuel (instead of diesel for example). The engines drive an electrical generation system that can supply power to 1AS (and that we can also export to the grid and sell as green energy) and the heat generated from the engines is used to heat water via a heat exchange system. This water is then used to heat the building. A system fully supporting our BREEAM Outstanding accreditation.

These projects, combined with our energy efficiency strategy, reinforce the Group’s commitment to responsible and sustainable business practice.

learn more about The Co-operative Group's ethics in action