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Tesco USA Looks to the Sun to Power New Distribution Center

Tesco, the fourth-largest retail chain in the world, today announced it is installing a $13 million solar roof on its five-building, 820,400-square-foot distribution center under construction in Riverside.

"We believe this will be the largest roof-mounted solar installation in California, and possibly the world," said Tesco USA CEO Tim Mason, who announced in December that Tesco was moving into the U.S. market with the opening its U.S. headquarters in El Segundo, California. The U.K.-based company has more than 2,800 stores in markets across Central Europe and Asia. Its expansion into the U.S. will begin with store opening this year in Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix and Las Vegas.

This announcement comes on the day that Tesco's CEO, Terry Leahy, made a speech in London on the implication of the climate change, where he committed Tesco to being a leader in helping to create a low carbon economy. Mason said the company will set " ... a global example by measuring and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, helping to stimulate the development of low carbon technology (not least by ring-fencing nearly $200m for investment in sustainable technology) and by empowering consumers by providing then with choice, value and information."

"The solar roof in Riverside is rated for peak power output of 2 megawatts and it will produce over 2.6 million kilowatt hours per anum, providing nearly a fifth of the depot's power supply," Mason said. "That will save approximately 1,200 tons carbon dioxide emissions each year."

The innovative, energy-saving device was developed by Solar Integrated Technologies, Inc., of Los Angeles, a leading designer, manufacturer and installer of power-generating, building-integrated roofing systems for commercial buildings.

"After extensive research, we have decided that American consumers want to go back to neighborhood retailing, which is about bringing high quality affordable foods and good jobs into their neighborhoods and, in addition, being good stewards of the environment, said Mason. "And that's what we intend to do."

Tesco is recognized as a good employer and leading the way in developing successful businesses around the world that are tailored for the local market. One of Tesco's core values is to treat people how they like to be treated and the company places great importance on staff training and development.

"We are particularly proud to have California as our headquarters and the location of our initial expansion into the market," said Mason.

Tesco has extensively researched the U.S. market and committed significant resources to developing a store format that will be popular with American consumers.

"We've found what we've been looking for over 20 years -- a winning format for the U.S. market," said Mason. "The new format is designed for the American market, following extensive consumer research and loosely modeled on Tesco's highly successful and innovative Express format, which we now operate in seven countries, with more than 1,000 stores serving approximately 10 million customers every week."

By the Numbers
  • Total square footage of roof space on the two of five distribution center buildings that will be covered by solar panels: 640,000
  • Total square footage of solar panels: 500,000
  • Total cost of solar roof installation: $13 million
  • Overall investment into the US by Tesco in the next five years: $400 million per annum.

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