In recent years, Walmart has been surpassed as the largest corporate installer of on-site solar in the United States. Despite having a much smaller number of total stores, Target has taken the lead. In 2017 the company widened this lead by installing 56 MW of solar on its facilities, versus a mere 5 MW at Walmart.
However, Walmart is planning to bounce back. In an announcement last week related to its “Project Gigaton” to reduce supplier emissions, the retail giant announced that it will install solar on another 130 of its stores. This will to bring it to a total of 500 locations across 22 states and Puerto Rico.
While a brief press statement did not spell out how many megawatts this will entail, the company notes that this will enable it to surpass its 2014 goal to double on-site solar use by 2020.
Additionally, it is important to note that while 500 facilities sounds like a large number, Walmart has 5,400 facilities in the United States, and as such even hosting solar on 500 of these could still mean that less than 10% of the company’s sites host solar.
By comparison, Swedish retailer IKEA had solar on 90% of its U.S. facilities in 2017, according to Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) Solar Means Business 2017 report. Target and four other retailers have surpassed 20%.
Meeting 50% renewable energy by 2025
However, on-site solar is not the only way that Walmart is embracing renewable energy. The company is also participating in Georgia Power’s new “green tariff” program, under which it plans to procure 182 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity from solar each year, enough to meet 34% of the demand at its retail locations served by Georgia Power.
Walmart has also announced that it will buy power from large wind installations in the Midwest, where wind is by far the least expensive resource.
Walmart currently meets 28% of its power needs annually with renewable power, and has a goal to increase that to 50% by 2025. While this is less than many tech giants Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon, that have either set or achieved 100% renewable energy in their operations, it is more aggressive than all but two U.S. states: Hawaii and Vermont.
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