Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa has announced its plan to have a quarter of its electricity needs supplied by renewable energy sources by 2025. The first 10% of this green energy rollout will come from rooftop solar panels at 11 of its facilities across South Africa, totalling 10.6 megawatts.
Nine of these facilities are already undergoing the solar installation, aiming to be complete by the start of 2019. The other two bottling factories will have solar power by the end of March 2019. Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa is the largest bottling partner of Coca-Cola in Africa, accounting for 40% of the Coca-Cola-owned beverages sold on the continent.
The solar project will result in significant financial savings
Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa has said that the investment in renewable energy sources will result in larger financial benefits after 2025. As electricity tariffs are likely to increase, using solar and other renewable energy sources will save a lot of money for the factories in the future.
“All our plants are supplied [with] electricity by Eskom, using coal as a fuel source,” says Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa supply chain director Andrew Ferrett. The solar panel arrays at these factories will save a total of five million tonnes of coal per year, used by traditional coal-powered electricity generators, and will cut carbon emissions by 14000 tonnes per year.
The solar panels will reduce the factories’ dependence on electricity from the national grid but will not be able to replace it completely. Since the sun is only up for about eight hours a day, the maximum power that solar can provide for full-time operation is about 30% of the total energy needed. Therefore, the factories will still depend on the national grid.
Coca-Cola is progressing with its sustainability goals
Coca-Cola has invested R120-million over the past seven years into its environmental sustainability initiatives. The rooftop solar panels are just the next step in furthering their efforts and reaching their goals. All facilities in South Africa have had energy-efficient lighting installed and high-efficiency motors installed in machinery.
“We have been working on energy efficiency for a number of years under our sustainability objectives. Introducing renewable energy is a logical extension of that,” says Ferrett. The company has already reduced its electricity consumption by over nine million kilowatt hours per year.
Coca-Cola also hopes to achieve 100% recyclability
The multinational company has said that it is also committed to a world without waste. They announced in January 2018 that Coca-Cola worldwide will rethink its packaging solutions and will aim to collect and recycle 100% of its packaging by 2030.
South Africa is widely regarded as one of the best countries in the world for solar energy. With a high occurrence of sunlight annually, increasing electricity prices and the rising demand for greener alternatives, South Africa is ideally-suited for investment in solar energy.
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