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South African Food Retailer Plans to Build Its Own Solar Parks and Wind Farms

published: 2021-05-25 9:30

South African food retailer and supermarket chain Shoprite (officially named The Shoprite Group of Companies) announced in late April that it will contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions by building its own utility-scale solar and wind projects. This announcement came ahead of an international climate summit hosted by the US government. Shoprite is currently the largest food retailer in Africa with almost 3,000 stores across 14 countries on the continent.

Shoprite said that the roofs of 21 of its facilities including distribution centers and stores are already fitted with solar panels. These rooftop solar systems have a surface area of roughly eight football fields and enough generation capacity to meet the power demand from around 1,100 households. However, solar photovoltaics still accounts for less than 1% of the company’s total energy consumption at this moment. Therefore, the company has set the goal of sourcing 25% of the electricity supply for its operational needs from renewable energies within the next five years.

Besides installing rooftop solar systems, Shoprite is also equipping its refrigerator trucks with solar panels. When asked about why it has chosen solar panels instead of electrifying its fleet of delivery vehicles, the company stated that employing electric vehicles is actually not environment-friendly because much of the electricity generation in South Africa is still based on burning fossil fuels. The solar panels on the refrigerator trucks can power the refrigeration system while the engine is switched off. This is extremely beneficial because the company’s drivers can turn off the engines of their vehicles when they have arrived at their destinations or gotten stuck in a traffic jam.

The company has also implemented several energy saving measures. Four years ago, it spent ZAR 98.3 million to replace the fluorescent lamps in its facilities with LED lamps. This has resulted in a reduction of 83.8 million kWh in its power consumption.

In its latest statement, Shoprite told the media that since everyone is living on the same planet, establishing a mutually beneficial framework for curbing climate change is of a global significance. Further details on the Shoprite’s plan to build utility-scale solar and wind projects have yet to be revealed. However, Sanjeev Raghubir, sustainability manager for Shoprite, told local news media that the company will be procuring 434,000MWh of electricity from renewable sources every year for the next seven years.

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