Checkers Sun Valley is one of the groups stores that is benefiting from its renewable energy strategy. Picture: Supplied.
Checkers Sun Valley is one of the groups stores that is benefiting from its renewable energy strategy. Picture: Supplied.

Supermarket retailer Shoprite powers up a quarter of its operations with renewable energy over the next 5 years

By Given Majola Time of article published Nov 12, 2021

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SOUTH African supermarket retailer, Shoprite, announced this week that it aimed to power a quarter of its operations with renewable energy over the next five years.

It has added 22 new solar PV (photovoltaic) sites between February and September this year, more than doubling its solar capacity.

The new solar PV installations represent a 138 percent increase to 29 280MWh per year. The output, generated by solar panels spread across the equivalent of 14 rugby fields, could power 2 674 households for a year, thereby easing the pressure on the national grid.

This is in line with the group's strategy to mitigate climate change, in which solar PV roll-out and procurement, including a significant number of solar-powered refrigerated trucks and trailers, plays a significant role.

Shoprite Group Sustainability Manager Sanjeev Raghubir said the group was intent on reducing its indirect greenhouse gas emissions by using more renewable energy, and continuously improving energy efficiency to manage its electricity costs which approaches R3 billion a year.

“At the same time, the Group is strengthening the resilience and adaptive capacity of its operations and supply chain to ensure responsible business continuity, and that of the local communities in which it operates,” Raghubir said.

These new sites include Shoprite stores in Ficksburg, Bethlehem Kroonstad, De Aar, Bronkhorstspruit, Brakpan, Vryburg, Delft, Worcester, Beaufort West, Paarl, Kraaifontein and Ondangwa in Namibia. Checkers stores with new solar installations include Welkom, Virginia Circle, Zevenwacht, Stellenbosch, Protea Heights and Checkers Hypers in Sandown and Sun Valley.

Shoprite now has 41 solar PV installations at two distribution centres (Basson and Centurion), 38 supermarkets in South Africa and Namibia, as well as a parking lot at its home office.

Plans to continue to install solar and other renewable power would go a long way toward realising the Group’s climate change objectives and targets, specifically of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, it said.

Shoprite operates more than over 2 400 outlets in 14 countries across Africa, employing more than 144 000 people across its operations. Its turnover in the past reporting period amounted to R164.9 billionn (adjusted to 52 weeks).

According to its Shoprite CDP Climate Change Response for 2021, Shoprite’s absolute emissions were 2 430 883 tonnes of CO₂, of which 23 percent accounted for Scope 1 emissions and 77 percent for Scope 2 (market-based) emissions. This was 5.4 percent lower than the previous reporting period. For Shoprite, Scope 1 emissions included stationary combustion (from standby diesel generators at stores, distribution centres and offices), fugitive refrigerant emissions (from HVAC and refrigeration systems) and mobile combustion (from its fleet of delivery vehicles).

Scope 2 emissions were from the consumption of electricity at stores, distribution centres and offices. Shoprite operates an extensive centralised distribution network, as opposed to relying on inefficient direct-to store deliveries by suppliers.

According to the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) State of the Climate in Africa 2019 report, extensive areas of Africa will exceed 2°C of warming above pre-industrial levels by the last two decades of this century. For Shoprite, the rising mean temperatures will directly increase the load on air-conditioning and refrigeration systems and their ability to function as designed.

Newly designed systems will require additional capacity to operate at higher mean temperatures, which will in turn be more costly to construct and operate, resulting in increased Capex and operating costs for Shoprite.

Based on refrigeration system sizing design calculations, a 2°C rise in the mean temperature would result in an increase of 7 percent in the electricity consumption of air-conditioning systems, 6.6 percent in the electricity consumption of refrigeration systems, 7 percent in the capital expenditure for new air-conditioning systems and 6.6 percent in the capital expenditure for new refrigeration systems.

Air-conditioning systems were ±10 percent of a site's power consumption while refrigeration accounts for 40-50 percent of a site's power consumption. The 2°C rise will thus result in a 0.7 percent (7 percent of 10 percent) increase (air-conditioning) and a 2.6 percent to 3.3 percent increase (6.6 percent of 40-50 percent) (refrigeration) in a site's power consumption (3.3 percent to 4 percent).

Shoprite's annual electricity cost was put at R2.7bn resulting in the potential financial impact of between R89m and R108m.

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