Case Study

ASOS champions sustainability

“Carbon Smart understood the challenge of meeting different drivers for ASOS’s board. We are committed to renewables and Carbon Smart have enabled us to make the right decision for Berlin – and set us on the trajectory for all our distribution centres.” 

Louise McCabeHead of Corporate Responsibility, ASOS

The challenge

ASOS, a leading fashion distribution organisation, founded in 2000 with headquarters in London and offices around the globe including Paris, New York, Sydney, and Berlin. ASOS is committed to rolling out renewables at their distribution centres: future-proofing their facilities and demonstrating leadership in action on climate change. With the company growing in the UK and abroad, Carbon Smart was commissioned by ASOS to assess the potential for renewable energy generation at their Eurohub 2, a 48,000m2 facility, currently being built outside Berlin, Germany.

Investing in renewable energy systems as part of the build phase means that ASOS could cut over 2,000tCO2e annually, and generate half of their electricity demand from on-site low-carbon sources, while reducing costs and disruption to the business compared to retrofit. A range of systems exist for the distribution centre, and ASOS wanted to understand how these solutions could meet their energy demand, as well as satisfy carbon reduction commitments. Carbon Smart was selected to conduct technology assessments for renewables at Eurohub 2 following successful and impactful projects on energy management, energy efficiency appraisals and supply chain. Carbon Smart offered technical expertise together with a thorough grasp of ASOS’s challenges and aspirations to ensure the project contributed to ASOS’s goals.

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The process

Carbon Smart worked closely with the build team and the developer in Germany, and using our detailed knowledge of the Barnsley distribution centre, we began by accurately assessing the daily energy consumption peak and annual energy demand. We prioritised systems that would be suitable for the building fabric, which meant ruling out heat pumps, biomass boilers and solar thermal. Due to the high level of automation and the 24/7 operation planned for the Berlin facility, electricity was the priority, for which a number of market ready solutions exist. We focused on wind turbines, solar PV and combined heat and power, and built techno-economic models for two sizes of wind turbines, several sizes of solar PV panels, combined heat and power plants with gas and biomass fuels, and combined heating, cooling and power.

Given the different policy and subsidy regimes in Germany, we amended our in-house tools to account for the realities of such systems in Berlin. This included a review of the current levies, subsidies and grants from Central Government, and interviews with industry bodies and developers in Germany for an accurate picture of the landscape to feed into our appraisal.

The Result 

Carbon Smart has identified a range of cost and carbon slashing renewable energy solutions for ASOS’s new European distribution centre. Carbon Smart’s expertise and flexible approach have equipped ASOS with key financial and environmental metrics for management decision, investment and implementation, further securing their position as a responsible, sustainable business.

As with any business, ASOS had a range of drivers to consider. Carbon Smart presented four different scenarios to ASOS, combining different technologies to meet different aims: best financial return (30% IRR over 20 years), biggest public statement (with large solar array and wind turbine), best environmental performance (further incorporating biomass CHP), and easiest to implement (including “off the shelf” gas CHP and solar PV). The company wishes to prioritise solar PV and is reopening negotiations around wind in the region.

Carbon Smart continues to support ASOS to realise their sustainability objectives, and expects to see the renewable energy systems at Berlin contributing significantly to ASOS’s environmental performance and leadership as early as 2017.

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“Working with Carbon Smart has given me and the business the tools we need to put our ambitions into practice. We wanted to cut our emissions from distribution through renewables, but weren’t sure where to start. We couldn’t have got as far as we have without their input, particularly with the complexities of operating in another geography. We are currently working with the developer to change the roof structure to accommodate the solar PV array, and hope to secure a wind turbine. This sets us up in Berlin and for future development in other countries – our environmental impact will be greatly reduced and we can make a real positive statement about our operations – with an attractive financial return on the investment too.”

Sam LeighHead of Automation and Engineering, ASOS