South Africa’s biggest retailer now has enough solar panels to cover 24 soccer fields – with more coming

 ·22 May 2023

South Africa’s biggest retail group, Shoprite, has continued its rollout of rooftop solar in the country, and now has enough panels to collectively cover the equivalent of 24 soccer fields.

The group said that it is continuing to expand its rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) installations at various sites throughout the country, adding to the group’s growing network of solar-powered and renewable electricity installations in South Africa.

The group’s current installed capacity of solar PV generates almost 50 million kWh annually with 174,534 square metres of solar panels across 71 sites – the equivalent of 24 soccer fields.

“This is enough to power 4,554 households for a full year, easing pressure on the national electricity grid,” it said.

The group said that it is aiming to power 25% of its operations with renewables in the next five years and to meet emission reduction targets, including net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“Renewable energy enables our stores to reduce our environmental impact, and in some cases, continue operating during power cuts,” said Sanjeev Raghubir, Group Sustainability Manager.

Shoprite and other retailers in South Africa have been hit with massive costs due to load shedding, with the group recording over half a billion rands’ worth of cost related to diesel spend just to keep operations going.

Just in the last few months of 2022, two of the country’s largest supermarket groups – Shoprite and Pick n Pay – spent a combined R906 million on diesel for generators at stores, with Woolworths adding another R90 million –taking it up to a staggering R1 billion.

More recently, retail group Dis-Chem reported spending another R90 million on diesel – while The Foschini Group attributed a loss of R1 billion (including diesel costs and losses due to lost trading hours) to load shedding.

There has been wide push from retailers to mitigate these costs, including the rollout of solar in Shoprite’s case, and shifting operations to be less energy-intensive.

Groups have also been pushing the government to extend diesel tax exemptions, currently only applicable to businesses operating in food production, to other businesses in the value chain – such as retailers.

In the meantime, Shoprite said it will continue to roll out more solar panels as part of its own operational needs.

Some of the new sites and generated kWh for each site:

Store Size (kWp) Annual generation (kWh)
Shoprite Ceres, Western Cape 279 kWp 422 197 kWh
Shoprite Primrose, Gauteng 160 kWp 250 250 kWh
Shoprite Evander, Mpumalanga 292 kWp 519 900 kWh
Shoprite Dundee, KwaZulu-Natal 270 kWp 409 252 kWh
Shoprite Harrismith, Free State 260 kWp 418 000 kWh
Shoprite Waverley, Gauteng 193 kWp 438 200 kWh
Shoprite Louis Trichardt, Limpopo 345 kWp 498 243 kWh
Checkers Hyper Brookside, KwaZulu-Natal 661 kWp 921 381 kWh
Shoprite Lenasia, Gauteng 265 kWp 440 600 kWh
Checkers Hyper Drakenstein, Western Cape 648 kWp 1 003 694 kWh
Freshmark Polokwane Distribution Centre, Limpopo 778 kWp 1 275 421 kWh
Brackenfell Distribution Centre, Western Cape 631 kWp 1 021 751 kWh
Basson Distribution Centre, Western Cape 1 750 kWp 2 730 000 kWh

Read: Good news for solar users in Cape Town

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