Today (Dec. 1) the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) published its fourth annual Solar Means Business report. The report looks at solar installations across businesses throughout the U.S. At this point at least 907 new megawatts of solar power are powering businesses from Walmarts to Apple data centers to General Motors. Moreover since starting to publish the report four years ago the use of solar energy at U.S. businesses has leaped 183 percent among the U.S.’s top companies. The new report showed that solar at commercial sites across the U.S. grew by 59 percent over last year alone.
“These blue-chip companies have realized investing in solar is a common-sense, cost-effective decision that pays dividends for both the environment and their bottom lines,” said SEIA CEO Rhone Resch. “The nearly 1,700 systems currently in operation are generating enough clean, reliable electricity to offset nearly 890,000 metric tons of harmful carbon emissions a year.”
Among the leaders in terms of installed, on-site solar power, Walmart again topped the list with 142 megawatts of solar photovoltaic panels installed at 348 locations. Its solar generation capacity continues to grow significantly. It had 105.1 megawatts installed in 2014, according to last year’s report.
"Solar is an important part of our renewable energy program,” said Mark Vanderhelm, vice president of energy for Walmart. “We believe in advancing solar deployment by pursuing projects that make business sense. In fact, in 2014 we committed to doubling the number of on-site solar energy projects at our U.S. stores, Sam’s Clubs and distribution centers by 2020."
Four companies moved past Kohl’s which was second with 50.2 megawatts of installed solar power last year. It reported the same figure this year. That allowed Prologis, Target, Apple and Costco to surpass it with 97.5 megawatts, 71.9 megawatts, 60.7 megawatts and 50.7 megawatts of solar power installed, respectively.
Businesses are increasingly seeing solar power as a smart business decision, no matter the business. For instance, Prologis, which owns and manages commercial properties across the U.S., like warehouses, doesn’t use all the electricity produced it can sell it to lessees or others. It’s on-site solar capacity grew from 84.1 megawatts last year.
Likewise companies like FedEx are increasing their bet on solar. “FedEx is committed to connecting the world responsibly and resourcefully,” said Mitch Jackson, vice president of Environmental Affairs and Sustainability, FedEx. “This includes minimizing impacts on the environment with our 15 solar installations, helping us avoid more than 4,600 metric tons of CO2 emissions in FY15, reducing our environmental footprint.”
Even the automotive industry sees the value of solar power. “Prioritizing renewable energy options like solar power at our facilities not only helps us reduce our spending on traditional energy but also reduces business risk and our impact on climate change,” said Rob Threlkeld, GM global manager of renewable energy.Tweet