Sainsbury’s trials UK-developed solar canopy



Sainsbury’s new petrol station at its environmentally friendly store in Leicester is powered by a unique solar PV canopy.

The installation utilises Cambridge-based solar manufacturer Polysolar’s translucent solar glass. Finished in Sainsbury’s trademark orange colour, the solar glass canopy is expected to provide around a quarter of the service station’s total energy requirements. The canopy will also allow more natural light to hit the forecourt, substantially reducing demand for lighting.

According to Polysolar, the solar glass lends itself perfectly to flat surfaces because it is capable of absorbing light from both sides. This means that the technology works with low levels of ambient light and the manufacturer also claims that the technology is less sensitive to shading and high temperatures.

Hamish Watson, founder of Polysolar, commented on the company’s partnership with Sainsbury’s, he said: “Teaming up with Sainsbury’s on the world’s first transparent photovoltaic solar canopy shows how the UK not only leads the world in new technology development but also in its readiness to invest in renewable innovations. We’re delighted to be working with Sainsbury’s to help it achieve its stretching environmental targets.”

Sainsbury’s new store in Leicester is a ‘Triple Zero’ store, meaning that it does not emit any carbon emissions from all operational energy used; no waste is sent to landfill; and the store has zero impact on the water usage of the local catchment area. In addition to the solar canopy on the petrol station, the store also boasts over 1,200 crystalline silicon PV panels.  

Paul Crewe, Sainsbury’s head of sustainability, engineering and energy, explained that the supermarket was open to using new technology to help reach its carbon goals. He said: “We’re really pleased to be trialling this brand new technology, which coincidentally is orange in colour. It is helping to reduce our energy costs and carbon footprint, and is part of a suite of new technologies we’re using at our new stores as we aim to become the UK’s greenest grocer.

“We’ve always been very keen to try new technologies if they have potential to help us achieve our 20x20 targets. And, once we have a clear understanding of the commercial and operational benefits, we will consider using this canopy at future petrol stations, or retrofitting them at existing stations.”