THE Co-operative Group has revealed plans that it is to become a significant generator of renewable energy.
Chief Executive Martin Beaumont said the society had wind turbine schemes on the drawing board that could lead to it supplying 100 gigawatts of electricity to the National Grid within three years – enough to power more than 20,000 homes.
Mr Beaumont revealed the plans at the official switch-on of the Coldham Wind farm in Cambridgeshire, which is a joint venture between the Group and ScottishPower. It has been built on agricultural land, owned and farmed by the Co-operative Group and it is the first wind farm built by ScottishPower south of the border.
The £ 17 million eight-turbine scheme will see reductions of 36,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.
The Group also has plans to open a second, larger wind farm with 14 turbines at Goole on Humberside, again on its own farmland. It has also identified several further potential sites on land not under its ownership and is in the early stages of establishing their viability.
Mr Beaumont said: "The development of our wind energy interests is a double win for the Co-operative Group. It represents recognition of our social and community responsibilities as a Co-operative business – at the same time, there is clear commercial potential to generate significant income.
"Thanks to the business diversity within the Group – in planning, land management and finance – we now have world class expertise in making schemes like Coldham a reality.
"Most importantly, we recognise the importance of involving local people at the outset of the project and giving them direct input into all aspects of wind farm schemes."