Attacq, the owners of Mall of Africa and Glenfair Boulevard, is the latest prominent retail space owner to invest heavily in solar in an attempt to escape Eskom.

The company recently published its end-of-year report, revealing how much money it spends on diesel during various stages of load shedding – something that has become an absolute necessity during the course of the year, as the country has experienced its worst year of load shedding on record.

According to Attacq, it is currently spending hundreds of thousands of rand a day to keep load shedding at bat. During stage 2 load shedding, the company spends R170,526 daily to keep the lights on in its retail space.

When rolling blackouts shoot up to stage 6, these costs rise to over R511,500 – and this is before even counting the costs of lost business and sales as a result.

Below is how much Attacq spends during load shedding.

Average diesel cost per dayRetailCommercialIndustrial
Cost per hourR56 842R9 552R65
Stage 1 R85 263R14 284R97
Stage 2R170 526R28 567R195
Stage 3 R255 789R42 851R292
Stage 4R341 052R57 135R390
Stage 5R454 736R76 180R519
Stage 6R511 578R85 702R584
Stage 7 R596 841R99 986R682
Stage 8 R682 104R114 270R779
Recovery ratio68%84%100%

To counter these losses, Attacq said it is planning to invest further in renewable energies such a solar, having already signed a PPA for a 15MWp power supply in the new year. It has also already started construction on four new rooftop solar power projects.

R17 million worth of retrofit projects are also underway in the country, with plans to invest further, it said. Resilience principles will also be introduced, such as rooftop solar installations being grid-tied to their generator capacity.

Other measures, like lighting retrofits that reduce energy use from common area lights and generators with data panels that switch off during load-shedding hours, are also part of these resilience principles.

Current trend for retailers

Attacq joins a growing list of retailers and property developers attempting to move away from Eskom’s power supply.

Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) Redefine Group – the owners of South Coast Mall, East Rand Mall and Centurion Mall –announced it would invest under R135 million in solar builds on its malls.

An estimated 94 million kWh of energy was saved through solar PV projects and lighting retrofit projects, the group noted, with R143.8 million in new projects underway. Overall the group is investing R194 million in improving the efficiency of its portfolio.

This includes solar PV, smart metering, water-efficient ablutions and energy efficiency across its retail, office and industrial portfolio. According to Redefine, solar generation currently makes up 17.8% of its energy consumption, up from just under 6% a year ago.

Shoprite has also increased its solar capacity. South Africa’s biggest retailer increased its solar photovoltaic system capacity by 82% to 26,606kWp from the previous year –achieved via 20 soccer fields worth of solar panels.

Despite the progress, the group is still focused on growing its solar-powered and renewable electricity installations while improving energy efficiency to reduce its environmental footprint, further reducing added strain on the national electricity grid.

Other initiatives include a drive to reduce electricity consumption by installing LED lights at its sites, which has saved 399 million kWh to date.

The group has also increased its fleet of solar-powered trailers by 234, to a total of 1,041.

Heineken South Africa also launched its solar power plant with 14,000 panels that could track the sun.

Heineken’s solar program relates more to its goal to reach net zero status by 2030 instead of leaving Eskom, but this shows that solar energy is also far better for the planet than Eskom’s current coal-powered fleet.

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