Africa’s biggest food retailer, Shoprite, is betting big on renewable energy. The retail giant wants renewable energy to fuel a quarter of its operations in the next five years. The Shoprite Group now generates 12 300 MWh of electricity a year from solar energy, that’s enough power to supply the energy needs of over 1 100 households.
The Group has also fitted 649 solar panels to the roofs of its refrigerated trucks, which generate 760 MWh annually – enough power to run 1 040 refrigerators for a full year. These allow drivers to switch off truck ignitions at delivery locations, reducing noise and exhaust pollution, while keeping the cold chain intact.
We have also signed an agreement which will see the Group procure 434 000 MWh of renewable energy per yearSanjeev Raghubir, Sustainability Manager for the Shoprite Group
South Africa averages more than 2,500 hours of sunshine a year, despite the abundance of sunshine, solar energy generates less than 1% of the country’s electricity. Shoprite sees a missed opportunity in terms of generating energy using the vast solar resources. The company is implementing projects across its stores to utilise solar energy to power its stores whilst reducing its carbon footprint.
Shoprite’s renewables strategy
Shoprite’s sustainability manager, Sanjeev Raghubir, told CNN early this week that the group already installed a total of more than 480,000 square feet of solar panels. The systems installed on top of the retailer’s 21 distribution centres and stores in South Africa and Namibia cover an area equivalent to around eight soccer fields.
“The electricity bill for the whole company is in the region of 2.5 billion Rand ($167 million) … 1% of such a large number is still quite significant,” Raghubir said speaking to CNN.
In a bid to find innovative ways to reduce electricity usage, the Group has also replaced fluorescent lamps with energy-efficient LED lamps. The process cost R98.3 million, and in the four years since its inception has saved 83.8 million kWh of energy.
Shoprite recently scored an A- for its climate change and water security disclosures on the globally recognised CDP platform, which further underlines the retailer’s commitment to environmental sustainability.
“At Shoprite we recognise that climate change poses direct and indirect risks to our business and the communities we serve. Therefore we are taking measures to tread more lightly on our planet. Apart from these solar panel installations, we have also signed an agreement which will see the Group procure 434 000 MWh of renewable energy per year for the next seven years,” said, Sanjeev Raghubir, Sustainability Manager for the Shoprite Group.