Tesco - Ethos - Reaching Net Zero with Cool Data - Star Refrigeration

Tesco has slashed its energy costs by 10% across eight distribution centres using new AI technology, in a trial that included turning up the temperature of its fridges by one degree.

The supermarket, which this week set out plans to make cost savings of £500m, including through energy use, revealed the results of a trial using Star Refrigeration’s Ethos AI system.

In the space of 21 months, it helped the UK’s largest retailer save 4GWh on energy costs and over 835 tonnes of CO2e across its refrigerated distribution network, it reported this week. 

Ethos, which uses AI to provide a data-led performance optimisation and smart monitoring service for refrigeration equipment, initially installed its technology at three Tesco sites before being rolling it out to five additional locations across the country.

The data was used to allow Tesco’s maintenance team, StarCare, to find the optimal balance between operational efficiency and energy consumption, including purging air from condensers and making repairs and changes to capital expenditure initiatives. It said this had resulted in significant improvements in energy optimisation.

One major change included the decision to raise chill temperatures by 1°C across Tesco’s estate, which it described as a “bold move” that “challenged conventional practises in the sector” leading to major savings.

The results of the trial saw Tesco achieve 4GW of energy savings and record an 835-tonne reduction in CO2 emissions at locations in Livingston, Doncaster, Hinckley, Widnes, Avonmouth, Daventry, Dagenham and Southampton between January 2022 and September 2023.

Dr Rob Lamb, group sales and marketing director at Star Refrigeration, said, “Thanks to Ethos, Tesco has been able to make notable energy savings, further optimising its energy use and lowering carbon emissions, while ensuring cost-effective refrigeration across its distribution network in what has been a relatively short period of time.”

Rob Redfern, Tesco group energy manager (renewables & LZC), said: “As the UK’s largest retailer, Tesco is committed to operating responsibly and sustainably. Reducing our energy consumption and CO2 emissions across our distribution network is just one way we’re taking action.

“We’re very proud to say that we have reduced energy consumption by an average of 10% across those distribution sites in the short period between January 2022 and September 2023, achieving a return on investment in under three months.”