Big-box stores could power half of energy needs with solar, report says


America’s big-box retail and grocery stores could fulfill half of their own electricity needs and generate enough clean electricity to power more than 7.9 million U.S. homes if they covered their roofs with solar panels, a new report from the Environment America Research and Policy Center has found. To learn more read: Big-box stores could power half of energy needs with solar, report says

Key Takeaways

  • It would not only boost the country’s solar energy output, it would also cut greenhouse emissions in an amount equivalent to eliminating 11.3 million cars from the road.
  • The nation’s big-box stores would collectively be able to generate 84.4 terawatt hours of solar energy, with the most potential capacity — enough to power 870,000 homes — situated in California, followed by Florida, Texas, Ohio and Illinois, the authors found. 
  • The authors calculated that Walmart’s roofs could power the equivalent of 842,700 households, while Target could power 259,900 households, Home Depot 256,600, Lowe’s 223,700 and Kroger 192,500.
  • The report recommended several public policy changes — including expanded federal clean energy tax credits, state and local tax incentives for solar, the ability to sell excess energy back to the grid, streamlined permitting and the encouragement of community solar programs. 

Path to 100% Perspective:

A commitment by the large retail chains and grocery stores to invest more in solar energy would show their commitment to a clean energy future and encourage other companies to do the same. Converting to more renewable energy now, like solar and wind, should be viewed as an investment in the future

Decarbonising electricity generation does not need to be expensive, and could even be cheaper in the long run. Wind and solar prices have declined over the past years, and they have become competitive in many parts of the world. This decline is expected to continue, which can even lead to lower electricity prices during the path to a 100% carbon neutral system.

Photo by Jeremy Bezanger on Unsplash