Sainsbury’s is the largest solar panel operator in Europe, the supermarket has claimed.

It now boasts 69,500 solar panels across 169 stores. They are estimated to reduce Sainsbury’s carbon dioxide emissions by 6,800 tonnes a year.

“We’ve already made real progress towards achieving our environmental commitments detailed in our stretching 20 by 20 Sustainability Plan,” said chief executive Justin King.

“This solar rollout is another big step forward. It’s good for the environment and for our business and we are actively looking to install more panels.”

Andrew Pendleton, head of campaigns at Friends of the Earth, added: “Firms across the UK are waking up to the business benefits of using clean British energy from the sun, wind and waves to reduce our reliance on increasingly expensive fossil fuels.

“It’s little surprise that 85% of the public want us to ditch fossil fuels in favour of renewable energy. This will bring down bills in the long term and create new UK industries and jobs.”