The government must subsidise green technology if businesses are to hit carbon reduction targets, Sainsbury's head of environment warned this week.

Sainsbury's would like to make more use of existing technology, but the government, which this week laid out its vision for Britain as a low-carbon economy, should do more to make it commercially viable, Alison Austin told The Grocer.

"What we are lobbying government for is to bring existing technologies to the marketplace and getting them rolled out," she said. "If you look at things like ground source heat pumps, we want to use them, but would really like them to be a bit more commercially viable. The government should be incentivising the uptake of proven technology on a wide basis ," she said.

Environment minister Ed Miliband this week published the The Low Carbon Transition Plan, setting out the measures needed to reach the target of a 34% carbon reduction by 2020. The plan focuses on increasing the use of renewable energy through the development of more on-shore wind farms, for instance. The goal is to generate 15% of all energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Sainsbury's is responsible for 0.5% of all UK energy use and the rising cost of energy meant the business had to plan for the future, said Austin.

"To be a good commercial operation you need to look at your big costs, and for us energy is quite a significant one. We've seen an absolute reduction in carbon emissions, an absolute reduction in energy in the last fiscal year - and that is with huge growth in the business," she said.

A direct contract with a wind farm in Scotland in December was now providing 1% of Sainsbury's energy needs, Austin said. Other deals in the pipeline would save it between 2% and 4% of energy costs.

The retailer was also looking at using all its food waste to generate energy and remained on track to take zero food waste to landfill by the end of the year, she added.