Walmart Deploys Affordable Green Energy on an Industrial Scale

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Retail giant Walmart uses a massive amount of energy to power its operations globally. According to a Forbes estimate, the company’s worldwide power demand is about 29,000 GWH per year. The U.S. alone accounts for about half of that, which is enough to power nearly 1.5 million homes. The U.S. electricity bill of Walmart is estimated to be around $1 billion a year.

A decade ago, Walmart’s former CEO Lee Scott set a goal for the company to be powered entirely by renewable energy. The company has remained on the path to achieving this ambitious goal, motivated as much by the potential to reduce its costs of business as the opportunity to reduce its environmental footprint.

As a part of its green energy strategy, Walmart has off-loaded the capital investment as well as the risk onto partners such as SolarCity. The company has installed 105 MW of solar panels – enough to power about 20,000 homes – on the roofs of 327 stores and distribution centers. That makes Walmart the single biggest commercial solar generator in the country. The company aims to double its number of solar arrays over the next five years.

As of now, Walmart receives 26 percent of its worldwide power from green sources, including wind, solar, fuel cells and hydropower. According to the company’s energy chief David Ozment, Walmart wants to achieve its renewable energy goals in a way that makes strong business sense.

Retailers such as Kohl’s and Starbucks run their operations more than 70 percent carbon-free by purchasing carbon credits or offsets to balance out their GHG emissions. Walmart views buying credits as an added cost item, something it always prefers to avoid. Instead, the company has reduced its energy costs per square foot of retail floor space by nine percent.

Under a long-term partnership deal with SolarCity, Walmart receives solar power at a price cheaper than the local electric utility would charge. At several California store locations, SolarCity is also installing backup batteries made by Tesla Motors. This will help Walmart save even more by storing up solar power from the sunniest parts of the day. Walmart has a similar setup with Bloom Energy for fuel cells, which save the company 20 percent compared with grid power.

Source: Forbes

Image Credit: Flickr via Walmart Corporate