Despite South Africa averaging more than 2,500 hours of sunshine a year, solar energy generates less than 1% of its electricity. By contrast, the UK produces 4% of its electricity from solar, with considerably less sunshine.
South African supermarket Shoprite sees a missed opportunity.
The chain is the continent’s largest food retailer, with 140,000 employees and more than 2,000 stores across 14 countries. It wants renewable energy to fuel a quarter of its operations in the next five years.
Shoprite already boasts a total of more than 480,000 square feet of solar panels on top of its 21 distribution centers and stores in South Africa and Namibia — an area equivalent to around eight soccer fields.
These generate enough solar energy to power 1,100 households for a year, but with every store and distribution center requiring refrigeration 24 hours a day, this accounts for less than 1% of the group’s overall energy use.