Wal-Mart leads the way in solar installations

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) is well ahead of other blue chip retailers in its installation of solar panels, having already installed more than 150 U.S. solar projects this year.

Having just opened its 100th solar powered store in San Diego, US the company expects to have as much as 90 MW of capacity by year-end, more than Ikea Group and Apple.

The company currently has 62 MW of panels installed at U.S. locations, and also operates fuel cells and wind turbines at some sites, reports Renewable Energy World.

Wal-Mart, with 4,522 stores in the U.S., expects to have 1,000 solar-powered locations by 2020, Marty Gilbert, director of energy at the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company, said in an interview.

“We are trying to show folks that you can not only pursue these sustainability initiatives, they also make business sense. The only projects that we were doing are the ones that economically make sense at the store level,” he said.

“The more we get involved and commit to volume, the more the prices come down for the technology,” he said. “Prices for solar panels, fuel cells, wind turbines to some degree, they are all approaching grid parity.”

Wal-Mart has 26 fuel-cell projects and six projects. A 1.1- MW wind turbine at a store in Red Bluff, California, will be operational within a month, said Gilbert.

“Wall Street was watching to see if this was a public relations game and we would be passing the cost on to our customers, said Gilbert. ‘‘It’s not done on a portfolio basis, it’s every store analyzed individually.”

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