Marks & Spencer will be purchasing cheaper, greener electricity thanks to the installation of a 6.1MW solar array at its East Midlands Distribution Centre in Castle Donington.

The solar array is expected to generate 5,000MWh of energy every year, with Marks & Spencer purchasing the energy generated onsite through a power purchase agreement. The array is predicted to provide a quarter of the distribution centre’s energy requirements. The 24,272-module strong array was developed by Amber Infrastructure who acted as the sole funder for the project.

The minister for energy and climate change, Amber Rudd welcomed the installation, particularly in light of the government’s push for increased commercial rooftop solar. She said:  “There is massive potential to turn our large buildings into power stations – and this is a great example of how businesses can reap the benefits. More rooftop solar means more jobs – and will also help deliver the clean, reliable energy supplies that the country needs at the lowest possible cost to consumers.”

Hugo Adams, director of property at Marks & Spencer, added: “The completion of this project is hugely exciting for everyone at M&S. It is the first significant step in a number of solar energy initiatives we are planning this year. The scale of the project demonstrates our ambitious goals and long term commitment to onsite renewable energy.”

The solar array is expected to help Marks & Spencer slash its carbon footprint by around 48,000 tonnes over 21 years. Amber Infrastructure claims that the 6.1MW project is the UK’s largest commercial solar installation.

Despite promising to put “rocket-boosters” underneath the flagging commercial rooftop sector, the government has only trailed proposals to lift permitted development for rooftop solar up to 1MW, and allow PV owners to move the system and retain feed-in tariff payments. However, the sector appears to be gaining traction, with a number of big players announcing commercial rooftop divisions including, Lightsource, Conergy and Lark Energy.