Big Box Retailers and Solar Power Generation

This entry was posted by on Thursday, 10 June, 2010 at

Researching the Solana plant led me to a Senate report on solar power generation. Big box retailers such as Walmart, Target, and Best Buy have huge stores, many of which are located in the hot Southwest. Some of these stores have large quantities of food which must be refrigerated, and they may also air condition their stores for customer comfort. This requires a lot of power, and the 2008 gasoline price spike scared a lot of companies into setting up their own renewable power generation systems. The big box stores are now installing their own solar photovoltaic equipment.

Walmart has installed a large solar array at its location in Apple Valley. This project now provides 1 megawatt of solar power to run the Apple Valley Walmart. It’s part of a larger Walmart initiative, Walmart already set up 18 solar arrays at stores in California and plans to have as many as 40 arrays complete in California locations by the end of 2010. These arrays are intended to provide about a quarter of the power that a store uses, and Walmart claims that its goal is to eventually switch fully to renewable power sources.

Many of the big box chains also sell solar panels and control equipment. Chains that focus on electronics and related equipment, such as Fry’s Electronics, have the best selections of solar gear. Larger store chains like Costco and Walmart that sell pretty much anything also sell solar power setups. Rebates on this equipment may be available as well.

Costco is also installing large photovoltaic systems at its own store locations. One of the biggest installations is at a Costco in New Jersey. Solar Power, Inc performed this installation, with solar panels manufactured by the Bay Area firm Solyndra. Solyndra and Solar Power, Inc won an award from Renewable Energy World for the successful completion of this project. The Solyndra solar collectors include significant technological breakthroughs since the cylinders in the panel can collect solar rays from any direction, providing efficiency improvements. President Obama and Senator Barbara Boxer have toured Solyndra’s Fremont solar panel factory, and Solyndra has received federal loan guarantees to continue solar panel construction.

Target is another large big box store that sells solar panels and other appliances which can be recharged by the sun. Some Target stores also have their own solar installations now. According to Target, the company has 21 stores in California with solar power systems installed and plans to add more. The company mentions that earlier stores may not be designed for solar panel installation on their roofs, although new roofs can incorporate this goal.

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