The Walmart solar panels will drive down renewable energy rates in Alabama.
We just announced that a new 1100 acre solar farm in Alabama is now fully operational and will provide renewable energy to our stores there. Stay tuned as we continue to explore other similar large-scale renewable energy procurements.
— Walmart Today (@WalmartToday) March 22, 2018
Walmart is known as a retail giant with a mission to offer low prices and, in the last decade or so, lead the path to sustainability.
“Walmart envisions a world where people do not have to choose between electricity they can afford and renewable electricity that is good for communities and the planet,” said Walmart’s Approach to Renewable Energy.
Alabama Walmart Project
One of these projects is the recently opened solar project in Alabama,which began operating in late 2017. Originally planned as a 72-megawatt plant, the 79.2-megawatt solar energy project is called Alabama Solar A and was developed by Alabama Power.
The Walmart project stretches across 1,100 acres—for perspective, the facility cannot be seen in its entirety from anywhere on the ground—and holds 338,662 solar panels that track the sun automatically. The tracking system is actually considered one of the best features in the facility as it will put the Walmart solar panels to optimal use.
“Without this tracking system, the panels don’t perform well during the winter time,” said Kevin Winchell, Field Service Manager at Clenera. “That’s the biggest advantage of this tracking system, it gives us those extra months.”
Moreover, the Walmart solar panels make up the largest solar facility in Alabama, and while it generates enough energy to power over 18,000 homes, most of the energy and renewable energy certificates generated will go to power Walmart stores in the area.
Most importantly, Alabama Power has been clear that the cost will not fall onto other customers but Walmart itself will pay for the $140 million project. Additionally, the Walmart solar panels—while not directly powering Alabama homes—will be of great benefit to homeowners across the Chambers County.
“This project is great for Alabama Power customers because it puts downward pressure on rates. It also helps our partner, Walmart meets its sustainability goals,” said John Kelley, Director of Forecasting and Resource Planning at Alabama Power.
Walmart’s Approach to Renewable Energy
Like many other large corporations, Walmart wants to use 100 percent renewable energy, and as seen above, its focus is to make major impact on a local scope.
“Our approach is to directly drive new renewable energy projects through on-site generation such as solar, wind, and fuel cells; large project off-take agreements such as wind farms; wholesale energy purchases in deregulated markets coupled with renewable energy supplies; utility green power purchases; and so forth,” the company stated in Walmart’s Approach to Renewable Energy.
In doing so, Walmart aims to be the most sustainable and efficient retailer in the market and has built its business model upon three objectives to help them achieve this, including:
- contributing to the lowering of renewable energy costs,
- developing and installing new renewable projects at scale, and
- ensuring the availability of stable renewable energy that is also cost-effective while either matching or beating utility power pricing.
Corporations Setting Sights on Renewable Energy
“From a brass tack standpoint, the efficiency gains that you get through programs like energy efficiency and operating a smarter, better system, result in some real financial savings,” shared to Katherine Neebe, Director of Sustainability at Walmart.
Other big corporations have also taken note to the long-term financial benefits that come from shifting toward renewable energy, particularly during a time when wind and solar energy have achieved cost competitiveness. Here is a look at how some of the biggest corporations are looking into renewable energy.
The National Hockey League (NHL)
The NHL became the first ever national sports league to be recognized by the EPA’s Green Power Partnership National Top 100 list where it ranked 17th place. This recognition was given due to the NHL’s restoration of around 50 million gallons of fresh water to rivers and streams across America. Additionally, it launched NHL Green in 2010, which is an environmental sustainability initiative aimed at addressing how both the scarcity of freshwater and climate change impact the game of hockey.
Ranking in the top spot on the EPA’s Green Power Partnership National Top 100 list is Intel. The ranking is well deserved considering the tech giant has been the nation’s largest voluntary corporate buyer of green power for eight years straight. It’s no wonder that in 2015 it met its goal to be 100 percent sourced by renewable power.
Meeting that goal has not stopped Intel from continuing to work toward being as sustainable as possible as it has continued to install energy plants into its facilities across the country.
Apple made waves when it made its main campus in Cupertino, California became 100 percent powered by renewable energy, but that is far from the end in this corporation’s path to sustainability. It also recently announced it joined the RE100 initiative.
“Apple is committed to running on 100 percent renewable energy, and we’re happy to stand beside other companies that are working toward the same effort,” said Lisa Jackson, Vice President for Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives at Apple.
The move comes as no surprise considering 93 percent of its global overall operations are also powered by renewable energy, and is powering 100 percent of its operations in China, the U.S., and 21 other countries with renewable energy, added The Climate Reality Project.