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Shoprite plans to side-step load-shedding by going off-grid

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Checkers Sitari (Somerset West) harnesses the power of the sun for its operations.
Checkers Sitari (Somerset West) harnesses the power of the sun for its operations.

The Shoprite Group is strengthening its renewable energy strategy as part of its plans to go off-grid in the near future.

Africa's largest food retailer says it now generates a substantial amount of electricity – 12 300MWh, which is enough to power over 1 100 households – following the installation of rooftop photovoltaic (PV) panels at multiple sites around SA and Namibia.

In a move to reduce the company’s impact on the environment, the group says it now has 18 stores throughout South Africa and Namibia that harness the power of the sun for its operations.

As SA continues to struggle with the crippling economic effects of the energy crisis, more homeowners and businesses are looking to renewable energy solutions in efforts to side-step Eskom’s frequent periods of load-shedding and power outages.

More companies across the globe are also joining the sustainability movement in large numbers; a trend that has seen them adopt eco-friendly energy practices as part of their environmental conservation vision.

Shoprite says its largest solar installation initiative is based at its Basson distribution centre in Brackenfell, Cape Town, which has enough solar panels to cover an entire soccer field.

The distribution centre has 7 706m2 of panels, which generate capacity of 1MW.

“At Shoprite, we recognise that climate change poses direct and indirect risks to our business and the communities we serve,” says Sanjeev Raghubir, sustainability manager for the Shoprite Group.

“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 000MWh of renewable energy per year for the next seven years, which is arguably the first deal of its kind in Africa.”

Shoprite says the newly-signed deal with an independent power producer will see the retailer reduce its indirect emissions by 25%.

Shoprite Devland (Soweto) has solar PV panels installed.
Shoprite Devland (Soweto) has solar PV panels installed.

The retail giant joins a list of local firms which are advancing their plans to go off-grid in the near future, including Siemens, Ford Motor Company, Anglo Platinum and Sibanye-Stillwater.

In 2019, Makro signed a 20-year management agreement with local renewable energy fund Nesa Investment Holdings, to erect solar panels on the roof of its various stores, including Woodmead, Riversands and Carnival, to generate a large portion of its energy needs during the day.

During his State of the Nation Address last week, president Cyril Ramaphosa said renewable energy has the capacity to ease the pain of load-shedding.

As part of the measures to address the electricity shortfall in SA, he said government will in the coming weeks issue a request for proposals for 2 600MW from wind and solar energy as part of Bid Window 5.

Shoprite is running several other initiatives, including solar panels on delivery trucks, and has also replaced fluorescent lamps with the use of energy-efficient LED lamps, to further reduce the company’s impact on the environment.

“The Shoprite Group recognises that climate change will directly and indirectly impact its business and the communities in which it operates, and therefore commits to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, continuously improve energy-efficiency, and strengthen the resilience and adaptive capacity of its operations and that of the communities in which it operates.”

Shoprite says it recently scored an A for its climate change and water security disclosures on the globally recognised Carbon Disclosure Project platform.

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