Now the biggest-of-the-big, Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, is about to bypass them all when it comes to added solar capacity.
Wal-Mart recently completed a solar PV installation–its 100th in the United States to be precise–at its San Diego location. This is one of the more than 150 solar projects completed in the country, bringing 62 MW of solar to grid. In total, the company plans to add 90 MW of solar by the end of the year.
In addition to its vast solar installations, Wal-Mart also operates fuel cells and wind turbines at some locations. About 4 percent of its power comes from renewable energy at this point in time, but the company doesn’t plan for that percentage to stay that low for long.
Marty Gilbert, director of energy for Wal-Mart, said in an interview that the company plans to have 1,000 solar-powered stores by 2020.
Wal-Mart’s solar installations began 4 years; the company started experimenting with solar in places with electricity prices were the highest and solar was a viable option, like in California, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico as well as some inland states like Ohio and Connecticut. The systems were only installed in places where they were virtually guaranteed to improve the individual store’s bottom line.
“The only projects that we were doing are the ones that economically make sense at the store level,” said Gilbert.
This strategy began to pay off for the company, leading them to expand their solar program across the country.
“The more we get involved and commit to volume, the more the prices come down for the technology,” Gilbert said in a statement. “Prices for solar panels, fuel cells, wind turbines to some degree, they are all approaching grid parity. We are trying to show folks that you can not only pursue these sustainability initiatives, they also make business sense.”