Power surge: Walmart, Apple, Verizon fueling solar growth
December 4, 2015 | By Barbara Vergetis Lundin
In the last four years, growth in the use of solar energy has surged 183 percent among America's top companies, according to a new study by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
In fact, in the last year alone, solar installations are up 59 percent, the report reveals.
Fueling this growth are major corporate solar users like Walmart, who ranked, for the fourth year in a row, number one in SEIA's Solar Means Business Report. The big box retailer boasts a robust 142 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity at 348 locations.
"Solar is an important part of our renewable energy program," said Mark Vanderhelm, vice president of energy for Walmart. "We believe in advancing solar deployment by pursuing projects that make business sense. In fact, in 2014 we committed to doubling the number of on-site solar energy projects at our U.S. stores, Sam's Clubs and distribution centers by 2020."
Other top companies recognized for both their amount of solar capacity and number of solar installations include Apple, Macy's, Walgreens, Target, IKEA, Prologis, FedEx, Intel, General Motors, Verizon, Johnson & Johnson, Bed Bath & Beyond, Safeway, Hartz Mountain, Staples, L'Oreal, Kaiser Permanente and Toyota.
"These blue-chip companies have realized investing in solar is a common sense, cost-effective decision that pays dividends for both the environment and their bottom lines," said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch. "Not only are they helping to create thousands of American jobs in solar, the nearly 1,700 systems currently in operation are generating enough clean, reliable electricity to offset nearly 890,000 metric tons of harmful carbon emissions a year."
The report notes that growth in corporate solar adoption is no longer limited to traditional solar markets, but that "solar is a smart business decision wherever your business may be."
Combined, America's top corporate solar users installed 1,686 systems totaling 907 MW of solar. Representing a "Who's Who" of the corporate world, these companies are playing an increasingly important role in the development, expansion and promotion of solar nationwide, while also reducing their operating expenses, benefiting customers and shareholders alike.
For example, GM notes that prioritizing renewable energy options like solar power at its facilities helps the company reduce spending on traditional energy, as well as reducing business risk and climate change impact. And the 2.7 MW solar array at FedEx's facility in Hagerstown, Maryland consists of nearly 9,000 individual modules, offsetting 37 percent of their electricity demand.
"Solar energy is an integral part of Intel's renewable energy portfolio, and we are committed to embracing, evaluating and implementing new projects and innovative learnings around the world," said Marty Sedler, director of Global Utilities and Infrastructure at Intel Corporation. "Solar will continue to be a core part of our alternative energy solution because it provides leadership, helps spur the market, makes renewables more accessible, and reduces the overall carbon emissions from electricity generation directly used for our facilities."
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