John Lewis has become the latest retail giant to commit to drastically increasing its use of renewable electricity, after inking a major new deal with SmartestEnergy to supply over 380 of its Waitrose and John Lewis stores with clean power.
The agreement, financial details for which were not disclosed, will see SmartestEnergy provide the retailer with power from its portfolio of hundreds of small to mid-sized independent renewables generators.
Nigel Keen, director of property services for the John Lewis Partnership, said the deal would reinforce the company's commitment to working closely with its supply chain to minimise its environmental impacts.
"As a responsible retailer, the Partnership aims to source sustainably across its supply chains and this agreement provides us with full transparency over where our energy is coming from," he said in a statement. "Working with SmartestEnergy means we can support independent renewable generators and contribute to progress towards the UK's target for 15 per cent of energy demand to be met from renewable sources by 2020."
The three-year contract will come into effect from January 2015 and will initially cover 387 sites across John Lewis' portfolio.
The energy will be largely sourced from SmartestEnergy's portfolio of independent projects, but the company added that there was the potential to source additional clean power from European projects.
Robert Groves, chief executive at SmartestEnergy, said the deal represents its "biggest contract to date" and marks a "real vote of confidence in our abilities as an independent supplier to meet the energy needs of one of the UK's most respected high street names".
"We have worked very closely with the Partnership's energy buying team over the past six months and been very impressed both with their approach to sustainability and genuine interest in the energy entrepreneurs we work with," he added. "This agreement is good news for the growing number of independent renewable generators in the UK as continued expansion in demand for green energy ensures they have a route to market for their power."
SmartestEnergy's green tariffs are based on sourcing power directly from independent renewable energy generators, such as Dewlay Cheesemakers in Lancashire, a family-run business that has installed a wind turbine at its site, and the Duchy of Cornwall's Rainbarrow Farm anaerobic digestion plant, which turns maize, grass silage and food waste into power.
The deal is part of a growing trend that has seen a host of high profile retailers step up investment in renewable energy technologies. Most notably, IKEA has pledged to generate all its own power by 2020, while Sainsbury's has established itself as one of the largest solar power generators in Europe through the use of solar arrays on its roofs.