Competing for the green medal
Big box retail stores use a LOT of power, and yet by definition those large stores also have plenty of flat roof space for installing solar power. In response to consumer demand for retailers to be greener, some companies are stepping up to the challenge. The big box solar power wars are on, and the biggest battle of all is Target vs Walmart.
Businesses today can no longer ignore the growing call from consumers to be operate in an eco-friendlier way. And while there are many different ways for businesses to up their sustainability practices, few are more visible than putting up solar panels to generate their own renewable electricity. It should come as no surprise that among the best candidates for making this happen are big box retails stores. The very nature of their “big box” stores means they have plenty of roof space available for solar panels.
Target recently announced its commitment to achieve 100% renewable electricity for its domestic operations by 2030, with an interim goal of 60% by 2025. It already sources 22% of its electricity from renewable sources.
Target has already installed rooftop solar panels on 500 of its 1,855 stores or more than 25%. It’s overall goal is to get to 100% renewable electricity in all of its stores within about a decade, and the chain is already nearly a quarter of the way there.
Walmart is aiming for 50% of its power supply to be renewable by 2025 through a combination of on-site installations and purchasing electricity from renewable providers.
Walmart already gets an estimated 28% of its global electricity needs from renewable sources, including generation from more than 520 projects in eight different countries, including the US and Puerto Rico. With another 130+ solar and other renewable energy projects in the pipeline, it expects to source 35% of its electricity from renewables in 2020.
Of course, the size of the task facing Walmart is many times bigger than Target’s challenge. After all, Walmart has operations all over the world. There are 4,7000+ stores in the US alone, not to mention their vast warehouse operations. Throw in all the international stores and it totals to more than 11,700. The retail giant currently has 130+ renewable energy projects happening at stores and facilities around the globe.
In other words, the solar power smackdown between Target and Walmart really isn’t a fair comparison at all. Walmart is in a league of its own, as they say. Changes on a scale that massive simply don’t happen overnight. Then again, some might say Walmart being such a juggernaut means they have the resources to pull it off way faster if they had the will to do it.
The short answer to this question is “not really.” But there are still some great examples of retailers going all in on sustainability. Take Ikea, for example. It has solar panels on nearly all of its US stores – but there are only about 40 of those in the US and 433 total around the world. But the Swedish furniture retailer, which is already producing nearly as much renewable energy as it consumes, has gone much further than most retailers in laying out an ambitious green plan as explained on the Ikea website:
We are committed to becoming climate positive. That means we will strive to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions wherever possible across our entire value chain: sourcing and extracting raw materials, manufacturing and transporting products, our stores, customer travel to stores, product use in customers’ homes and product end-of-life.... By taking a scientific approach and working together with our partners, suppliers and customers around the world, we will make this happen by 2030.
It's an ambitious plan, to be sure – especially the part about eliminating greenhouse gas emissions in “…customer travel to stores…” It’s not clear how they would make that happen. Maybe you’ll have to arrive to its stores only on foot or on a bicycle! But more power to them for making a big, bold commitment.
Apple and Amazon both have serious renewable energy commitments, which you can read about in our previous article, How Your Personal Renewable Energy Commitment Compares to Big Tech.
Here are the businesses (not just retailers) ranked by the amount of installed solar power capacity measured in megawatts (source):
As you can see, although Ikea is doing great things, it doesn’t even rank in terms of installed solar capacity because it’s a much smaller player. The figure for Walmart (and all those pictured) is just for installed solar capacity in the US and does not include international operations. It’s also interesting to note that corporate solar installations have surged in recent years. Fully half of the solar capacity you see in the figures pictured above has been installed since 2016!
As you can see, retailers and other corporations are stepping up to the plate in a big way when it comes to transitioning to renewable energy – primarily through solar panel installations. How about you?
Solar power systems are cheaper today than they’ve ever been, and NEEECO has great solar power systems available for homeowners, landlords, and businesses, including powerful solar batteries so you’ll store plenty of the electricity you generate and have it when you need it. We also offer creative financing options that will have you saving big or even eliminating your electric bill in no time!