Walmart Shows Solar Means Business, Doubling Onsite Solar Projects

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Walmart announces it will double the number of onsite solar projects at its U.S. stores, Sam’s Clubs, and distribution centers by 2020. The plan is part of Walmart’s global initiative to drive the production or procurement of 7 billion kWh of renewable energy by the end of 2020, which could save the company an astonishing $1 billion a year.

While many companies still — wrongly — think solar energy is expensive, Walmart is proving that solar means business! The company has announced it will double the number of onsite solar projects at its U.S. stores, Sam’s Clubs, and distribution centers by 2020. 

The plan, part of Walmart’s global initiative to drive the production or procurement of 7 billion kWh of renewable energy by 2020, is in addition to its recently announced commitment to reduce the energy intensity of its buildings by 20% by 2020, compared to a 2010 baseline. Walmart’s 2020 plans to scale renewables and accelerate energy efficiency globally could save the company as much as $1 billion a year in energy costs.

Walmart made the announcement while hosting President Obama at a solar-powered store in Mountain View, California. The store, currently deriving 14.5% of its energy from solar systems installed by SolarCity, was visited by the President to emphasize the importance of energy efficiency and renewables.

Bill Simon, president and CEO of Walmart U.S., commented: “We share the President’s commitment to a sustainable energy future and applaud his willingness to partner with business on this important issue.”

Over the last few years Walmart has made significant progress toward its goal to be supplied by 100% renewable energy. Walmart today is the Number 1 commercial solar energy user, according to the Solar Energy Industry Association, and is recognized as the largest onsite renewable energy user in America by the EPA’s Green Power Partnership.

According to Walmart, since 2005, the company’s greenhouse gas emissions grew at only one-quarter the rate of the company’s growth, nearly flat-lining in recent years. With its 2020 energy goals, it anticipates an absolute decline in GHG emissions by 2020 despite significant growth plans over that same time period.

“We know from experience that investing in energy innovation allows us to save money, reduce carbon pollution, and create jobs. Our customers can feel good that we’re watching out for both their wallets and their children’s future,” Simon added.

The smart move of companies like Walmart to go solar creates more certainty in the marketplace and encourages others to invest, lowering the cost for everyone. According to Lyndon Rive, CEO of SolarCity, “One of SolarCity’s biggest challenges is that customers are still stuck with the stigma that clean energy is expensive. Walmart’s scale, brand, and leadership is sending the signal that solar is cost effective. Walmart is showing you can be sustainable, and you can do it at prices that meet or beat the price of energy from the grid.”

Some are questioning the choice of Walmart, which still accounts for large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, as the venue for President Obama to speak about solar power. However, Walmart’s high visibility can help increase the visibility of solar and get out the message that solar can actually save money.