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Walmart is known for large stores and low prices.
It is also has a strong reputation as one of the largest purchasers of renewable energy in the United States, dethroned by Target for solar consumption only this week. With that as its reputation, it’s only a matter of time before more distributed energy resources, including storage, makes its way into Walmart’s energy mix.
Since 2005 when the retailing giant announced its aspirational 100% renewable energy target, the company said 25% of its global electricity needs now come from renewable sources.
That includes 470 on-site and off-site projects, mostly wind and solar power projects, under development or in operation in seven countries around the world and in 17 states.
In the United States, that means that until recently, Walmart had earned the distinction of being the leading corporate installer of solar power. Last week, Target inched past Walmart, installing 147.5 MW of solar power compared with Walmart’s 145 MW, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association’s 2016 report. Even so, Walmart has lead the field in solar installations since the SEIA began issuing the report in 2012.
Wind and solar power both play a vital role in Walmart’s renewable energy portfolio, as Mark Vanderhelm, vice president of energy for Walmart, points out. He also notes that the company is committed to doubling the solar energy projects at its Walmart and Sam’s Clubs stores, as well as its distribution centers across the U.S. That commitment has started spurring investments in energy storage as the company continues to gobble renewable energy projects.
In Alabama, for instance, Walmart has signed a long-term contract with Alabama Power for the majority of the RECs from a 72-MW solar farm being built near LaFayette in Chambers County. The RECs will be retired on Walmart’s behalf. Alabama Power, which signed a PPA for the energy and RECs from the plant with Origis Energy, the developer of the project, will sell the remaining RECs to other customers.