South Africa’s Retail Giant Embraces Solar

Exploring the Shoprite Group’s Impressive Push Towards Reducing both its Carbon Footprint, Costs and a Reliance on the National Grid  

With a goal of becoming a carbon neutral organisation by 2050, South Africa’s Shoprite Group (including Checkers) has made impressive inroads into becoming wholly less reliant on the country’s national power grid, while looking to transfer the benefits of its newfound annual energy costs savings onto its increasingly cash-strapped customer base.

To date, the group has installed 174 534 square metres of solar (PV) panels across 71 sites, including stores and distribution centres around the country. Spanning the equivalent of 24 football fields, this initiative can generate up to 50 million kWh worth of electricity per year, enough to power more than 4 500 average-size households over this period. While the real-world benefit of this is a broad easing of pressure on an already constrained national grid, Shoprite Group Sustainability Manager, Sanjeev Raghubir, confirms that the financial saving in terms of annual electricity costs across the group translates to more than R16 million. 

During periods of uninterrupted power supply from the national grid, energy gained via each store’s bespoke, roof-mounted solar PV system is directed to new initiatives, including the installation of electric vehicle charging stations at selected Checkers outlets. Currently operational at locations throughout the Western Cape, the ability for customers to conveniently charge their respective EVs (at a cost of around R5 per kW) while shopping is set to be rolled-out to other centres around the country in due course. 

The Shoprite Group is also operating the first electric truck in South Africa, powered by renewable electricity that is generated at its Basson Distribution Centre, a solar PV installation that alone generates 4 500 000 kWh per year.

The Group is aiming to halve its current greenhouse emissions footprint within the next seven years, with solar PV at the forefront of these plans. 

The Rentech brand was established in 2001 as a dedicated provider of renewable energy products and services. It forms part of the AutoX family, manufactures of Willard Batteries and Sabat Batteries, some of South Africa’s leading battery brands. Rentech is focused on supplying local and selected African markets, including a range of inverters, lithium batteries, lead-acid batteries, and PV panels of the highest quality. It provides expert advice to assist customers in choosing the best product solutions, appropriate for specific applications and requirements.