Superstores can meet half their electricity needs with rooftop solar, says a new report

Superstores can meet half their electricity needs with rooftop solar, says a new report

1/21/2022 1:15:00 PM

Superstores can meet half their electricity needs with rooftop solar, says a new report

From Walmart to Ikea, a report finds that the rooftops of big-box stores offer enough solar potential to power the equivalent of 8 million American homes.

of retailers with the most on-site solar power in the United States. The company says about a quarter of its more than 1,900 stores nationwide have solar on-site, with the systems providing from 15 percent to 40 percent of a property’s energy needs.With roughly 2,000 stores in the United States,

ranks third among superstores in rooftop solar potential. The home-improvement retailer said more than70 of its stores have solar installed on the roof.Walmart spokesperson Mariel Messier declined to provide the number of on-site solar installations at the retail chain’s 4,742 stores. “On-site solar, including rooftop solar, is one of the many tools we use to meet our renewable energy goals,” Messier said in a statement. Walmart — along with Target and others — also purchases off-site solar power. Overall, Messier says, Walmart has 550 on-site and off-site solar projects installed or in development.

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according to the Solar Energy Industries Association list of retailers with the most on-site solar power in the United States. The company says about a quarter of its more than 1,900 stores nationwide have solar on-site, with the systems providing from 15 percent to 40 percent of a property’s energy needs. With roughly 2,000 stores in the United States, ranks third among superstores in rooftop solar potential. The home-improvement retailer said more than 70 of its stores have solar installed on the roof. Walmart spokesperson Mariel Messier declined to provide the number of on-site solar installations at the retail chain’s 4,742 stores. “On-site solar, including rooftop solar, is one of the many tools we use to meet our renewable energy goals,” Messier said in a statement. Walmart — along with Target and others — also purchases off-site solar power. Overall, Messier says, Walmart has 550 on-site and off-site solar projects installed or in development. Advertisement Story continues below advertisement Jim Fenton is the director of the Florida Solar Energy Center, which encourages companies to take the on-site approach. He said the building must first take steps to make sure it’s operating as efficiently as possible but that on-site solar has “the best internal rates of return.” “The answer is efficiency, efficiency, efficiency,” Fenton said, “then solar.” Solar will also be most cost-effective if it’s paired with battery storage, Fenton added. That’s because commercial electricity rates can be much higher during periods of high demand, such as in the evening. So if a company can store power during the day and use it when costs are elevated, it can lead to outsize benefits. Story continues below advertisement “You need to know your energy loads,” Fenton said. “If they have batteries in combination with the solar, they can really lower their demand charges.” Sign up for the latest news about climate change, energy and the environment, delivered every Thursday Fenton said that parking lots can offer even more solar potential, with panels not only providing electricity to the store but shade to cars and perhaps even power for electric vehicle chargers. Wilson’s group didn’t include parking lots in its calculations, but the report touches on the possibility. Advertisement “Most parking lots could be covered by a solar canopy,” it states, highlighting an Ikea store in Baltimore that installed what looks like solar awnings over the rows of cars in its parking lot. In a news release, Ikea said the move helped cut the store’s energy spending by 57 percent in the fall of 2020. “We have these massive retail and grocery stores with very inviting roofs and parking lots,” Wilson said. “It just makes so much sense to put solar panels on these places.” Comment