South Africa’s five top retailers have a major role to play in sustainable growth in the energy sector, said Greenpeace on Tuesday as it launched a new campaign called “Renewable Energy Champions”.
Greenpeace Africa Climate and Energy Campaigner Penny-Jane Cooke said the Renewable Energy Champions campaign was aimed at getting the country’s top five retailers, Pick n Pay, Massmart, Spar, Woolworths and Shoprite “to show solar energy some love”.
Greenpeace Africa’s latest report on “Shopping Clean – Retailers and Renewable Energy” said South Africa’s top five retailers “need to champion South Africa’s transition to 100% renewable energy”.
Cooke said the report ranked the retailers on their “commitments to a 100% renewable energy vision”.
The report ranks the retailers’ current status of renewable energy and commitments, energy transparent, commitment to renewable energy, greenhouse gas mitigation and lobbying for clean renewable energy.
Woolworths is ranked the highest, with an overall score of four out of ten, and Shoprite scored the lowest due to a lack of transparency in terms of the company’s energy information.
The report noted how the retailers’ electricity consumption compared to the average South African household.
Pick n Pay could generate electricity to power 65 000 households just by switching to renewable energy, whereas Woolworths could generate electricity to power 55 000 households and Massmart 53 000 households.
“Collectively, the retailers can free up enough energy to power at least 178 400 households,” Cooke said.
She said moving towards a 100% renewable energy vision would decrease pressure on the grid and reduce the need for load shedding.
The report indicated that none of the top retailers were doing “particularly well when it comes to a commitment to a 100% renewable energy vision”.
Cooke said retailers need to engage in “active lobbying for the barriers to renewable energy to be removed”.
The Renewable Energy Champions campaign gives retailers an opportunity “to take the lead and show the millions of South Africans who support them that they really care about the future of this country”.
Cooke said renewable energy “provides a real opportunity for South Africa to move away from a developmental path based on polluting coal and expensive nuclear power.”