First National Bank (FNB) will install solar power systems in 100 branches across South Africa. This is part of its commitment to environmental sustainability and operational resilience, the bank stated.

The bank said the initiative aims to improve uninterrupted access to services offered in its branches during load-shedding while mitigating the environmental impact of its operations.

FNB CEO Jacques Celliers said approximately 97% of the bank’s branches already had backup power systems, including Uninterrupted Power Supplies and lithium-ion batteries.

However, Celliers explained that reducing the branches’ environmental impact required power to be sourced from renewable energy sources.

Backup systems without self-generating solar or wind power rely on Eskom’s grid to recharge, and the utility primarily uses coal to generate electricity.

FNB said the solar installation initiative will begin in the coming months, with a phased approach to “ensure a smooth and efficient transition for each branch involved”.

First in line for the upgrade will be branches in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape, Bethlehem and Phuthaditjhaba in the Free State, and Zeerust in the North West.

Jacques Celliers, FNB CEO

Celliers also said the project showed that FNB continued to invest in its local market presence to be closer to customers and better understand their local context.

“In pursuit of this objective, we have been steadily expanding our presence in certain areas and deploying community advisors to help customers with their financial needs wherever they may be,” Celliers said,

FNB Points of Presence CEO Lee-Anne van Zyl echoed this sentiment, highlighting that branches remained critical in facilitating economic activities in local markets.

“While millions of our customers use channels such as our FNB app, online, and cellphone Bbanking to access most services, many continue to visit our branches to perform a range of activities and consult our advisors on financial requirements,” Van Zyl said.

“Therefore, it is essential for us to remain accessible to local communities.”