South Africa’s biggest retailer Shoprite says it has increased solar capacity by 82% in the last 12 months, helping to ease pressure on the national electricity grid.
The group said that it increased its installed capacity of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems by 82% to 26,606 kWp. This was achieved through 143,674 square metres of solar panels at 62 sites – equivalent to the size of 20 soccer fields.
“This is enough to power the equivalent of 3,735 households for one full year,” the group said.
In the last financial year, the group has increased its total renewable installations from 32 to 62. These now produce 40,894 MWh – 11,614 MWh more than in November last year.
Despite the 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.
The group has also increased its fleet of solar-powered trailers by 234, to a total of 1,041.
“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,” said Sanjeev Raghubir, Shoprite Group Sustainability Manager.
On top of its sustainability plans, Shoprite noted in September that it is planning for rapid expansion in South Africa, adding hundreds of new stores, and building a new campus in Johannesburg.
Despite being hit by the destruction caused by July 2021’s riots, the group said it managed to add a net number of 117 stores during the financial year.
Speaking in terms of its retail store-based operations, Shoprite is targeting a record 275 store openings in 2023, across the group. Within this, the Supermarkets RSA segment plans to open 220 stores, of which 95 stores will serve the mid-to-lower segment customers.
This expansion is outside of the stores the group is expecting to acquire as part of its proposed Cambridge Food, Massfresh and Masscash Cash and Carry acquisition, it said. The new stores also don’t include those that are scheduled to re-open due to social unrest closures.
On the supply chain front, 2023 will also mark the start of the first phase of a multi-year supply chain expansion which it said will add approximately 200,000 square metres of distribution capacity over the next three years.
As part of this, the group also plans to break ground on a new 85,000-square-metre Johannesburg campus during this first quarter period, with a go-live for this facility expected towards the end of its 2024 financial year.