Supermarket to sell green power -- Off the shelf

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Dutch supermarket chain Albert Heijn is currently looking at the possibility of selling green electricity. The announcement by the supermarket comes in response to increasing interest in "environmentally conscious shopping," the company says. As yet, however, no decisions have been taken about the practicalities of selling green power off the supermarket shelf, nor about which energy producer(s) will join the chain in the venture.

According to Ad Brogtrop, head of the Netherlands' Renewable Energy Bureau (PDE), the interest of Albert Heijn -- a member of the giant Ahold group -- is further evidence of the increasing importance of a green image as a marketing instrument. "We're seeing ever-growing support for renewable energy. More and more businesses are trying to cultivate a green image. Look at the car ads on TV and in the papers with lots of wind turbines in the background," he tells the in-house magazine of the Dutch power producers' federation, EnergieNed. "We asked those companies why they were using wind turbines, and they said: Society wants renewables; we want to show that our cars are so efficient that they do the least possible damage to the environment. This is a conscious use of wind turbines as a marketing strategy. I think it's very sharp of the advertising boys. Business is coming to see renewables and being green as an essential marketing instrument."

Apart from selling green electricity to its own customers, Albert Heijn is also looking at meeting part of its own power needs from renewables. As a member of the Central Bureau of Grocers, it is party to a "long-term energy conservation agreement" aimed at booking a 30% improvement in energy efficiency over the period 1995-2010. The agreement includes a non-binding declaration of intent to secure a percentage of its own energy needs from renewable resources.

Others too

Elsewhere, Siemens Nederland says it has contracted to buy three million green kWh annually from local power company Energie Delfland. The purchase amounts to 30% of the annual requirements of Siemens' Zoetermeer base and equates to a saving of 864,000 kilos of coal. For Delfland, the Siemens deal is the first industrial contract to be finalised since the partial liberalisation of the green electricity market in January. It is also the biggest contract concluded by the Delft power company which currently supplies some 5000 households with nominally green electricity under its green power scheme, Delfland Groen.

Delfland and Siemens will also be collaborating on the construction of what will be the Netherlands' tallest wind turbine, a 120 metre, 1.5 MW Tacke unit from Enron Wind's German subsidiary, to be installed at Siemens' Zoetermeer headquarters. Apart from supplying some 1100 homes with green electricity, the turbine, which will be clearly visible from the nearby A12 motorway, will also act as a powerful statement of Siemens' green credentials, believes the company's Bernard Bos, bearing out Brogtrop's marketing instrument claims.

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