Walmart Expands Rooftop Solar Initiative at Stores Across Country, Arizona
Thursday, September 5th 2013 5:40 PM
By GetSolar Staff.
As part of a worldwide effort, Walmart has begun to install solar on its buildings in Arizona to reduce energy consumption and improve its commitment to environmental sustainability.
The Glendale Star reported that Walmart, like other retailers such as Walgreens and Ikea, is looking to enhance its renewables score card by installing solar panels above some of its parking spots, creating "stalls" that provide shaded areas for customers to park comfortably.
"We set out in 2005 to increase our environmental sustainability as an essential ingredient to our company," said Senior Manager of Sustainability Communications Chris Schroeder. "We started construction on the covered parking panels in several Arizona stores as a test because the climate is perfect for it. Pilot project stores are expected to achieve savings over their current utility rates immediately - as soon as the first day of operation."
As is, the project is in an experimental phase, with stores in Texas and Colorado featuring similar data-collecting renewable energy plans. The two-lane construction of the solar structures that will support the panels are located on the south end of the Coolidge, Ariz., Walmart, according to the Coolidge Examiner. This Walmart location is one of 100 stores that have gone solar. Off all of those locations, each solar power system generates an estimated 15 to 20 percent of a store's total electricity requirements.
"The employees love the covered, shaded parking, and we believe putting them at stores will help customers and give them some shade," Shroeder added. "We have rooftop solar panels on top of our stores [too]. We started testing them in 2006, and we currently have about 20 solar installations on rooftops."
Where the Retailer Ranks
Once Walmart sees how the solar panels perform at select locations, they will determine not only which technology is best outfitted for specific stores, but also how the panels are best installed and utilized. The hope is that each installation will enable Walmart to better serve customers by lowering energy costs. Data from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) indicates that solar power installations have saved Walmart more than $1 million since 2008. The retailer is also ranked No. 1 in solar systems installed and solar capacity, according to the SEIA. Overall, Walmart generates 1 billion kilowatt hours of electricity around the world from more than 300 renewable energy projects in operation, with plans to be 100 percent supplied by renewable energy in the future, the Glendale Star reported.