In order to fully benefit from the potential of abundant renewable energy in South Africa, companies need to step out of their comfort zones and send clear signals to the markets by committing to an ambitious 100% renewable energy future
This is the resounding message in an updated report ‘Shopping clean: Retailers and renewable energy – An Update’ released by Greenpeace Africa which gives an up to date outline of the state of renewable energy investments and commitments by South Africa’s top five retailers (Pick n Pay, Shoprite, Woolworths, Spar and Massmart).
The ‘Renewable Energy Champions’ campaign was first launched by Greenpeace in April 2016 with the report ‘Shopping Clean: Retailers and Renewable Energy’, and in the report update, Greenpeace takes a look at how the retailers have improved in the intervening six months. “When comparing the retailers to one another, Woolworths is still in the lead with an improved score of six out of ten. Massmart is close behind Woolworths with a score of five and a half, a significant improvement from their April score. Pick n Pay has also shown a significant improvement and is now engaging with Greenpeace on how they can increase their commitments to renewable energy in the future. Spar and Shoprite are at the bottom of the table with Shoprite scoring the lowest of all five retailers” said Penny-Jane Cooke, Climate, and Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace Africa.
During 2016 both Woolworths and Massmart undertook solar PV installations; with Woolworths installing the first phase of their 2MW system at their Midrand distribution center, and Massmart installing a 520kW and a 430kW system at their Carnival Mall and Woodmead Makro stores respectively. This combined solar PV capacity is sufficient to power 500 – 700 average South African households.
At the bottom end of the updated ranking table, dragging behind are both Spar and Shoprite. Spar’s score has stayed the same, as they have not made any progress in the renewable energy sector in 2016. Shoprite continues to have the lowest score of three out of ten due to a lack of publicly available information, lack of transparency and unwillingness to engage with Greenpeace on these issues.
Shoprite’s sustained low score is a clear indication that the retailer is not yet taking renewable energy seriously, neither are they engaging with the Renewable Energy Champions campaign.