Africa’s largest grocery retailer Shoprite Group says it has increased its installed capacity of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems by 82%, to 26 606 kilowatt peak (kWp) over the last 12 months, thus playing its part in easing pressure on SA’s struggling national power grid.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the JSE-listed retail giant noted that to date it has 143 674m2 of solar panels at 62 of its sites, the equivalent of 20 soccer fields and producing enough power to service 3 735 households for a year.
“Despite the marked progress, the group is still focused on growing its solar-powered and renewable electricity installations while improving energy efficiency to reduce its environmental footprint, further reducing added strain on the national electricity grid.”
“Other initiatives include a drive to reduce electricity consumption by installing LED lights at its sites, which has saved 399 million kWh to date,” Shoprite adds.
The ramp up of solar capability falls in line with the group’s strategy to reduce indirect greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change. However, the progress also bodes well to protect the group’s operational capabilities amid prolonged bouts of intensified power cuts as business and consumers currently battle indefinite stage 3 and stage 4 load shedding.
According to Shoprite, in the last financial year the group’s total renewable installations almost doubled, increasing from 32 to 62 and producing 40 894 megawatt-hours (MWh). That is 11 614 MWh more than it did in November last year.
“We are incredibly proud of our increased use of renewable electricity, and we intend to build on this in the coming years to meet our science-based emission reduction targets, including net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050,” says Shoprite Group sustainability manager Sanjeev Raghubir.
“Furthermore, we’ve saved more than R16 million in electricity costs in the past year through our solar PV systems and these additional savings are passed on to our customers,” he adds.
In August, Shoprite announced that it had secured R3.5 billion in loans for green projects from the country’s largest banks Standard Bank and Rand Merchant Bank (RMB).
It said at the time that the funds would be directed towards sustainability-linked projects aimed at driving efficiency in its operations and towards reducing the group’s environmental impact.