The supermarket and retail giant confirmed the target at its annual general meeting on Thursday, saying the power pledge is part of the retail group’s new Sustainability Plan.
“We have made significant progress in becoming more energy efficient, but now we want to ensure all the energy that we use is green,” the plan says. “By 2025 we will power our business with 100% renewable electricity.”
Woolworths operates almost 3300 stores, including Big W and Dan Murphy’s outlets, and is the nation’s sixth largest electricity user consuming about 1% of Australia’s electricity.
While the plan provides little detail on how the group will achieve its target, it is expected Woolworths will build on its network of rooftop solar modules, which are already installed at more than 150 locations, and sign power purchase agreements (PPAs) with solar and wind energy providers.
CEO Brad Banducci said the company also plans to invest in new-build solar and wind projects.
“Over the coming years, we’ll invest tens of millions of dollars into renewable energy partnerships and prioritise new green energy projects to spur growth in the industry and new jobs in the sector,” he said. “We believe this will not only be a positive for our business but also contribute to a better tomorrow by making green energy accessible to more Australians.”
Woolworths has also committed to become net positive by 2050 and Banducci said the company would work towards achieving the milestone ahead of time, having already reduced its carbon emissions by 24% from 2015 levels through initiatives to improve energy efficiency.
“Moving to 100% renewable electricity is the right thing to do and something a growing number of our customers, team members and shareholders expect us to lead on,” he said.
“We use around 1% of Australia’s national electricity so we have a unique opportunity to use our scale for good and make a real impact.”
Woolworths is the latest retailer to join the race to renewables with ALDI, Bunnings and Officeworks among those to recently announce renewable energy targets.
German supermarket Aldi has committed to source 100% renewable energy to power its Australian operations by the end of 2021.
Hardware and DIY product supplier Bunnings has pledged to power its stores with 100% renewable energy by 2025 while stationary giant Officeworks earlier this month committed to a similar target.
Jon Dee, Australian coordinator of The Climate Group’s RE100 initiative, said he expected Woolworths’ announcement to have a major influence on other retailers.
“We expect that this will trigger a domino effect across Australia, with many more businesses stepping up to transition to 100% renewable electricity,” he said.
“Woolworths is demonstrating that renewable energy not only makes environmental sense, it makes business sense too.”
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