Wal-Mart in major solar power push

Wal-Mart has announced what it called "a pilot" solar power project consisting of solar power arrays installed on 22 of its stores and warehouses in Hawaii and California that will generate up to 20 million kWh a year. The largest US retailer will purchase power from three leading US solar panel companies: BP Solar, SunEdison and PowerLight. The company will allow the solar arrays to be installed and maintained by a company that negotiates a long term energy supply contract. The retailer says the solar power systems will provide up to 30% of the power for each store, and that it will use the results "to determine how to move forward with solar power generation at additional..stores".

The initiative is the latest in a drive by Wal-Mart to improve its record on environmental sustainability that has included setting targets for the reduction of packaging, improving the fuel efficiency of its truck fleet, and supporting sustainable fisheries.

News source: Financial Times

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You are right. Hopefully they'll start saving enough money with this solar power endeavor so that they can afford a decent health care plan :P .

roadwarrior said,
Solar panels are primarily made of silicon, which if I'm not mistaken is one of the most plentiful elements on the planet.

It has to be very pure, high-grade silicon, which is not easily made. They have to use the same grade of silicon (or very nearly so) as are used to make computer chips, putting them in direct competition with the entire computer industry.

Some interesting other solutions are coming available, including some using dishes and Stirling generators. Victor Valley in California is building a 500MW plant over the next few years using these dishes spread over 4500 acres. It will produce more solar power than all other solar projects in the US combined. The mechanism may prove to be useful on a local basis as well, as each dish and power generator is essentially self-contained.

If it's a) huge and b) powerful (walmart/microsoft/etc) then it's evil.

How about stop buying their products. That will make them change.

A lot of grocery stores in Ontario, Canada are starting to use the heat generated in the refridgeation units to warm the store in the winter times. Its all about smarter use of energy. Ikea thought of this long ago by changing the shape of a product (for ex a glass) so that the volume is the same but its stackable so more can ship w/o breaking.

I've always said our growing energy problems/global warming wouldn't be fixed by some laws on the books or government regulation... they'd be driven by the market, in ways far more innovative then anyone could predict. Put the $ behind energy costs, and you'll see less and less of it go to waste on a large scale that isn't predicted in the forecast models that the public keep getting shoved down their throats.

Rolith said,
I've always said our growing energy problems/global warming wouldn't be fixed by some laws on the books or government regulation... they'd be driven by the market, in ways far more innovative then anyone could predict. Put the $ behind energy costs, and you'll see less and less of it go to waste on a large scale that isn't predicted in the forecast models that the public keep getting shoved down their throats.

One huge problem with relying on the market is that it's good at some things, but abominable at others.

In particular, markets don't like to make long-term bets in most cases. Some companies may even be motivated to make poor long-term decisions for short-term goals.

For example, it's a terribly hard sell to build surplus capacity into supply systems (i. e. pipelines)-- after all, it's just more to maintain, until there's an outage or demand becomes sufficient to justify the extra capacity in the short term.

That short-term reasoning tends to lead to chicken-egg problems: Solar electricity won't come down in price without economies of scale, and we won't see scale until the price of solar electricity is competitive.

Alternatively, it may leave some markets forever in flux. The free market has developed many interesting alternative-fuel technolgies. Until we get a critical mass of users, though, backing any one technology is a risky, long-term bet, which few will stake large sums into.

That's when it's valuable to have the state intervene. They can demand excess capacity, or kickstart a market by promoting a certain technology.

cool, the money they save (and make by selling back to the local power grid) means lower prices, and better pay for those who work there.

The money they save will be more in thier pockets. The consumers and employess of Wal*Mart will not benefit from it.

They better stop giving customers pamplets, then the customers leaving it in carts or litering the parking lot with it.

I can't wait to see it (the solar panels)