Tesco has secured planning permission to build 27 wind turbines in store car parks as part of its ambitious renewable energy technology programme.

Following a trial of the UK's first Ropatec turbine in its Newton Aycliffe store, Tesco is to install a further 19 machines and eight other traditional turbines.

The lamp post-sized Ropatec turbine was well-suited for stores in residential areas as it was quieter and more compact, according to energy consultant TNEI, which is working with Tesco on its renewable energy programme. This was because the turbine's rotor consisted of six vertical aerofoils rather than the traditional three blades.

"Tesco is now running one of the biggest urban wind energy initiatives in the UK," said TNEI business development director Matthew Lumsden.

"As energy costs continue to rise, Tesco is building a sustainable energy framework that will contribute to its energy requirements and help keep costs to the consumer down. It's a programme that's bound to set a precedent for other retailers to follow."

The renewable energy programme has been running for two years and, in addition to the Ropatec turbines, Tesco has installed traditional Gazelle turbines capable of powering the stores' tills and lighting at three other sites, as well as smaller roof-based rotary turbines.

On-site assessments at Tesco's 2,000 UK stores and distribution centres were completed last year and TNEI is analysing the data to determine how many sites are suitable for wind turbines.

Tesco set up a £100m sustainable technology fund in 2006 to make low-carbon technologies more commercially viable. It plans to cut emissions from existing stores worldwide by at least 50% by 2020. Tesco claims it is already on track to achieve the 2010 target of reducing energy use in UK buildings by 50% from its 2000 levels this year.

Tesco is also looking at introducing solar panel technology to UK sites, following the installation of the biggest solar panel roof in the US on its Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market distribution centre in Riverside last year.