Large scale consumer retailer Walmart is betting big on solar power, the company announced today. It plans to install solar generating systems atop 20 to 30 of its sites in California and Arizona that mostly make use of lower cost and lighter thin film solar panels from SolarCity.
Walmart, working with its sustainability partner Environmental Defense Fund, chose SolarCity to design, install, own and maintain the new solar power systems on its locations. When the project is completed, it is expected that each system will supply up to 20 to 30 percent of the total energy needs for each location, producing a combined total of up to 22.5 million kilowatt hours of clean energy per year. This is said to be enough power for more than 1,750 homes annually. The clean power generated as well will avoid producing more than 11,650 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually, equal to taking more than 3,000 vehicles off the road for a year.
These installations will add to the 31 current solar setups Walmart has in California and Hawaii. In choosing the thinner film solar panels, the retailer believes that the large scale on site installations of the opper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) and cadmium telluride thin film “could help further the development of this technology [CIGS] and bring it to market quicker, while use of cadmium telluride thin film could help make the case for other businesses to adopt the technology for on-site commercial use.”
“By leveraging our global scale to become a more efficient company, we are able to lower our expenses and help develop markets for new technologies,” said Kim Saylors Laster, Walmart vice president of energy, in a statement. “Developing and incorporating new renewable energy sources, like thin film, reduces energy price risk and aligns very well with our commitment to solving business challenges through technology.”