Solar Farm 2 (Voltalia)

The Co-op has agreed a long-term deal to take the entire power output of a new 34-megawatt solar farm being built in North Yorkshire.

The society said the deal, with renewable energy specialist Voltalia, would provide electricity for its estate, including food stores, distribution centres and Funeralcare homes across the UK.

The Eastgate solar farm near Scarborough is currently under development and set to be fully operational in 2025. It will comprise of 62,500 solar panels.

The initial agreement is set to run for 15 years. At maximum capacity the farm will supply up to 7.5% of Co-op’s total electricity needs per year.

Co-op said the move was an important step on its journey to reaching net zero for its operations by 2035.

“The signing of this Corporate PPA is a significant milestone demonstrating Co-op’s goal to green the energy grid and create transparency in the renewable energy market,” said Co-op group CEO Shirine Khoury-Haq.

“Not only will this agreement unlock more green energy, it will also enable energy security, drive economic growth and move us closer to net zero. That’s why we still believe that grid decarbonisation should be an absolute priority for the government.

“Whilst businesses have a part to play, reform to allow much more rapid progress for projects such as the Eastgate solar project is urgently needed. Whilst the significant progress the UK has made to date is to be applauded, as a country we remain too reliant on fossil fuels, and ambitious targets alone won’t deliver the benefits a net zero grid will deliver, from energy security to lower generation costs to the better outcome for the planet that’s so desperately needed.”

Voltalia CEO Sébastien Clerc said: “We are very proud to support Co-op in their net zero target by providing clean electricity in the food industry, reaching millions of individuals and enabling us to raise awareness of more sustainable and responsible consumption.”