Renewable Energy: How Woolworths, Massmart, Pick n Pay, Spar and Shoprite Stack Up

Green Peace Africa launched a report titled ‘Shopping Clean: Retailers and Renewable Energy’. The report highlights the important role that South Africa’s top five retailers (Shoprite, Massmart, Pick n Pay, Spar and Woolworths) should play in developing the renewable energy industry, by committing to a target of powering their operations with 100% renewable energy.

The current drought and increasing food prices makes it clear that climate change is a real and present danger. Which can be addressed through a low carbon pathway.

Reports released by the Department of Energy state that the solar radiation resource in South Africa is one of the highest in the world. This means that solar energy must be considered a key solution to rising electricity costs as solar technology advances and the costs of these systems decline.

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South Africa’s retail sector plays an important role in society and has developed over time to meet the changing needs of the country. This report details the current state of renewable energy investments and the commitments from each of the five retailers. The retailers have been ranked on four key criteria relating to renewable energy. These are: energy transparency, commitment to renewable energy, greenhouse gas mitigation, and lobbying for clean energy.

So how do these key retailers stack up to achieving this goal.


Woolworths still leads the way with a score of 6 out of 10. Their ‘commitment to renewable energy’ score has improved owing to the PV installation undertaken at their Midrand distribution center in 2016. They are still the only retailer that has taken the critical step of committing to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2030.


Massmart’s score out of 10 has also seen a significant improvement from April 2016, jumping up two full points from 3.5 to 5.5. Massmart has shown an improved commitment to renewable energy through the installation of two solar PV systems in 2016<.

Pick n Pay

Prior to the release of this report, Pick n Pay had not engaged with Greenpeace renewable energy issues, or our Renewable Energy Champions campaign. Engagement between Pick n Pay and Greenpeace is now taking place and this has led to an increase in the retailers’ energy transparency score.


Spar’s score has remained the same as they have not made any progress in the renewable energy space in 2016.


Shoprite continues to have the lowest score as insufficient information is available on their energy usage. And they have not engaged with Greenpeace Africa on these issues till this day. Some information is now available through their website. It describes two solar PV installations that in 2016, and this information has since been verified by the retailer.

Here is a graph with summary of each retailer:

If you care about the future of this country and renewable energy, you have power to make a difference. We as consumers have the power to push these retailers who are not committing to sustainability, to commit.  I know where I’m shopping.

If you want to read the full report click here.

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