Walmart is completing six new solar installations in Colorado, bringing its U.S. solar count to 100 in the United States. SolarCity arrays on the rooftops of three stores in Westminster and one each in Lakewood, Highlands Ranch and Lafayette (pictured below) are getting the giant retailer to that big shiny number.
Wal-Mart has said that its long-term goal is to use 100 percent renewable energy for all of its retail stores and distribution facilities. Solar is a big component of that drive, but the company has also been purchasing wind power for its facilities in Texas. In addition, the company has publicized efforts to make its supply chain more sustainable.
Walmart said the Colorado projects will add another 2 megawatts (MW) of clean power and help the state toward its goals of producing 30 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2020. The state currently generates about 13 percent of its energy from renewables—mostly from wind—which is good compared to most states, but it still relies on coal for a whopping two-thirds of its power.
According to Walmart, the company’s long-term goals include reducing its greenhouse gases at its facilities around the world by 20 percent by the end of this year. The company does not say how long it expects the goal of 100 percent renewable energy to take, but it’s likely that another big-box retailer could beat it there. Ikea, the Swedish furniture retailer, has also been on a renewable energy kick, most recently socking away $640 million in 2011 for investments in clean energy.
Ikea already owns dozens of wind turbines. It has 124 PV projects installed at 40 facilities in seven countries, with approval for 84 more. The company was also the first major U.S. retailer to completely ban incandescent light bulbs from its shelves. The company is also installing electric vehicle charging stations at a handful of locations in the U.S. west. Ikea workers and customers have been said to have help funded the planting of nearly 2 million trees in the US since 1998.
On Walmart’s sustainability website the company says it is also working on bringing more sustainable products to its shelves, by providing affordable fair trade coffee and organic certified produce. Overall though, it may have some ground to cover to reach what Ikea already has.