Big Brands Go Solar

go solar

Big box store rooftops provide prime real estate for solar panels.

The use of solar power on the rooftops of big box stores is a trending practice that will hopefully catch on with more and more corporations.  There are already quite a few stores which have made the commitment to use their massive rooftops to install utility scale solar projects to capture solar energy.  Installing solar panels on these big box facilities reduces energy costs and helps to protect the environment, not to mention that it boosts corporate image.  Walmart, Ikea, and Kohl’s are three companies making it a priority to use more solar power.

Walmart

Walmart Stores Inc. (Walmart) is the largest retailer in the world and began installing solar panels on expansive rooftops in 2008.  Five projects were completed, each of which was in a location with high utility rates – those being Hawaii, Puerto Rico, California, Connecticut, and Ohio.

Up to now, Walmart has installed 150 solar projects in the United States and expects to produce 90 megawatts of solar electricity by the end of 2012.  This achievement will top the other big box stores.
Currently, there are 62 megawatts of solar panels installed at Walmart stores in the U.S.
Walmart has 4,522 stores throughout the U.S. and is aiming for 1,000 locations with solar power by 2020.
go solar

The trend of placing solar panels on the flat roofs of big box stores is quickly catching on.

IKEA

IKEA is a megastore that uses solar power at 70% of its 38 U.S. locations.  The 31st solar array was recently installed in IKEA’s Bloomington, Minnesota store.  The 1-megawatt installation is the largest solar PV rooftop array in the state.  The new solar array covers 128,000 feet and was built using 4,316 solar panels.

Just since April, IKEA has completed a total of 14 solar projects using a total of 250,000 panels.  Eight projects are still underway.

One of IKEA’s goals is to eventually power all of the southern operations with rooftop solar, which will involve installing 10.7 megawatts across nine stores and one distribution center.  The ultimate goal is to install solar arrays at 89% of its retail real estate; they’re aiming for 38 megawatts in total generating capacity.

utility scale solar power

These extensive solar panel displays provide enough clean energy to power thousands of nearby homes.

Kohl’s

Kohl’s Department Store is another store that’s stepping into the responsibility of keeping the world a greener place.  The store is fairly new in the quest for solar energy, but they’re making quick progress.  In fact, Kohl’s has the distinction of being one of the largest single hosts of solar power in all of North America.

One goal is for Kohl’s to have a 25% increase in solar installations by the end of 2012.  This will be accomplished by installing solar panels at 30 stores across the nation.

By the end of 2012, Kohl’s will have 150+ solar installations in 13 different states.  Each store’s energy needs will be supplied by solar energy at 20% to 50%.

Once the installations which are currently underway are completed, Kohl’s will generate 7.42 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually, which is enough to offset the greenhouse gas emissions from approximately 6,300 homes for one year.

These three companies aren’t the only ones.  Many large corporations have received recognition for making major contributions to a cleaner environment.  One example is Apple Inc., which is currently building a 20-megawatt solar farm, which will help power a North Carolina data center. As more and more companies realize the potential of solar, it is apparent that solar power is the source of energy for the future.

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