Wal-Mart to Double its Solar Power Use

by | Apr 22, 2009

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walmart-solar-array2Retailing giant Wal-Mart aims to double the amount of solar power it uses over the next 18 months.

BP Solar will install panels on rooftops of 10 to 20 stores and distribution centers in California, according to USA Today.

This follows the news from earlier this month that Wal-Mart installed solar at 18 Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores, along with two warehouses in California and Hawaii. The solar projects supply 20-30 percent of the electricity needed at the locations, according to the story.

Wal-Mart is not paying for the solar arrays. Rather, it is entering into a 10-year power purchase contract to pay a set rate for electricity from BP Solar, which makes, installs, owns and maintains the systems.

Wal-Mart is paying equal to or less than market rates for the electricity and, in the initial projects, the retailer has achieved a “moderate savings,” David Ozment, Wal-Mart’s energy director, said in the story.

Wal-Mart likely would have to spend more than $2 million per store if it purchased the solar setups, according to the USA Today story.

It is estimated that all of Wal-Mart’s solar projects will generate the equivalent of electricity used by 2,600 homes. The solar arrays should eliminate 22,500 metric tons of carbon-dioxide emissions a year, or the same as taking  4,000 cars off the road, according to the story.

Wal-Mart is considering adding solar arrays to other locations.

Kim Saylors-Laster, Wal-Mart’s vice president of energy, said in the article that Wal-Mart projects that electricity rates will rise over the next few years as fossil fuel costs track upward. Solar prices are stable, however, because there are no fuel costs, she said, adding, “We really look for the longer term.”

Recently, Wal-Mart said it wants to eliminate all waste by reducing, recycling or reusing everything that comes into its 4,100 American stores by 2025, and for Asda, its British operation, the target is 2010. For instance, the company has a plan to recycle styrofoam packaging.

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