Earlier this week Environment America introduced a new report “Solar On Superstores” showing the vast potential of covering the more than 102,000 box stores and their supporting infrastructure in the U.S. with solar panels. That would be the equivalent of 62.3 gigawatts of solar power—enough to power more than 7 million homes in the U.S. That’s more than 3 times the total amount of solar power installed in the U.S. at this point.
The big box stores in the US represent a huge amount of untapped potential for installing solar energy on their roofs. The report found that the stores have 4.5 billion square feet of space on which they could install solar power.
Some companies like Ikea, Kohl’s and Walmart, even, have been making great strides in installing solar power. Walmart has already installed 142 megawatts of solar power at its stores in the U.S. Others can do more. For instance, Environment America singled out Target.
“Target has made progress on solar,” said Bret Fanshaw, Solar Program coordinator with Environment America. “But, just like the ads say, we ‘expect more,’ especially when the company has so much potential to cut pollution, reduce energy waste, and save money.” The company has pledged to install solar on a quarter of its stores but thus far it apparently has not made much progress.
Such tactics have helped companies become more solar-powered in the past. For instance, Apple began adding in more solar after it was criticized by Greenpeace. Similarly Apple stopped using hazardous materials in its computers and other devices after being criticized by organizations.
However, many more companies and box stores can install solar power than just Target. But Target is important. “Target’s solar potential is second only behind competitor Walmart, which already has nearly 350 installations across the country,” Environment America said. Target alone has 240 million square feet of roof space.
The report also argues that producing energy via solar when and where it’s used has additional benefits like reducing losses during electricity transmission. The report said that 5 percent of electric is lost through transmission alone. It also found that solar power can save them $8.2 billion annually in electric bills.
“Rather than waste energy through transmission or fire up expensive, polluting peaking power plants to meet temporary demand,” Fanshaw said, “we should do all we can to encourage the production of solar energy on our rooftops, close to where we live, work, and shop.”Tweet