At an event this morning in Mountain View, Calif., during a visit from President Barack Obama, Walmart announced that it will double the number of on-site solar energy projects at its US stores, Sam’s Clubs and distribution centers by 2020. The commitment is part of Walmart’s global initiative to drive the production or procurement of 7 billion kWh of renewable energy by the end of 2020.
Over the last few years Walmart has made significant progress toward its goal to be supplied by 100 percent renewable energy. With today’s commitment, the world’s largest retailer will further extend its leadership in renewables, doubling its solar energy projects in the US and Puerto Rico over the next six years, compared to a 2013 baseline.
“We share the President’s commitment to a sustainable energy future and applaud his willingness to partner with business on this important issue,” said Bill Simon, president and CEO of Walmart US. “We know from experience that investing in energy innovation allows us to save money, reduce carbon pollution and create jobs.”
Walmart made the announcement while hosting President Obama at its solar-powered Mountain View store. The President visited the store to highlight the importance of energy efficiency and renewables in keeping America strong.
Walmart is the No. 1 commercial solar energy user, according to the Solar Energy Industry Association and is recognized as the largest on-site renewable energy user in America by the EPA’s Green Power Partnership.
Earlier this week, Walmart also signed on to the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Initiative, reinforcing the company’s commitment to reduce the energy intensity of its buildings by 20 percent by 2020, compared to a 2010 baseline.
In total, Walmart says its 2020 commitments to scale renewables and accelerate energy efficiency globally could save the company as much as $1 billion a year in energy costs.
The Mountain View store currently derives 14.5 percent of its energy from solar systems built and installed by SolarCity, a local California business and one of Walmart’s largest solar vendors. According to SolarCity, its projects with Walmart alone have created an estimated 9,000 construction jobs in the United States, and SolarCity has created an additional 5,000 permanent American jobs since it initiated its first project with Walmart in 2010.
As Walmart and other companies commit to solar, it creates more certainty in the marketplace and encourages others to invest, lowering the cost for everyone.
According to Lyndon Rive, CEO of SolarCity: “One of SolarCity’s biggest challenges is that customers are still stuck with the stigma that clean energy is expensive. Walmart’s scale, brand, and leadership is sending the signal that solar is cost effective. Walmart is showing you can be sustainable, and you can do it at prices that meet or beat the price of energy from the grid.”
With today’s commitment, Walmart continues to demonstrate that it can continue to grow while slowing its environmental impact. Since 2005, Walmart’s GHG emissions grew at only one-quarter the rate of the company’s growth, nearly flatlining in recent years. With its goal of being completely powered by renewables by 2020, the retailer anticipates an absolute decline in GHG emissions despite significant growth plans over that same time period.