BALTIMORE, MD -- Environment Maryland Research & Policy Center announced Tuesday that it has joined a new national campaign calling on Walmart to publicly commit to installing solar panels on the roofs of nearly all of its more than 5,000 locations across America -- and over the parking lots that surround them -- by 2035.
There are 60 Walmart owned retail locations in Maryland.
“For more than 50 years, Walmart has known that success means being ahead of the curve,” said Kate Breimann, Environment Maryland Research & Policy Center’s Director. “But when it comes to protecting the environment, Walmart needs to remain at the forefront by going big on solar. This company revolutionized retail in the United States in the 20th century, and it has the opportunity to be a key player in revolutionizing how the retail sector produces and consumes energy in the 21st.”
Walmart is the largest retailer in the United States, and 90 percent of Americans live within 10 miles of one of its locations. Based on a 2016 report from Environment America Research & Policy Center, Walmart could install approximately 5,844 megawatts (MW) of rooftop solar capacity, which is equivalent to the power consumed by 660,000 American households per year.
In 2014, the company set a goal of installing nearly 500 on-site solar projects at U.S. Walmart stores, Sam’s Club locations and distribution centers by 2020. Through 2019, the company was the nation’s second-largest business installer of on-site solar panels, coming in just behind Target. A commitment to put solar panels on nearly all of their stores, distribution centers and accompanying parking lots by 2035 would position Walmart as a national corporate leader in transitioning to renewable energy.
Solar panels on national big box grocery and retail stores create unique benefits for the environment, electricity customers and the large commercial businesses themselves. The advantages Walmart and other chains can deliver include:
Helping the environment. The rooftops of Maryland’s big box stores and shopping centers could host enough solar capacity to generate the same amount of electricity needed to power more than 148,000 homes.
Improving how we use our electricity grid. Producing rooftop electricity, which means creating power near where the energy will be used, reduces energy losses that happen during transmission. This means saving approximately 5 percent of all electricity transmitted and distributed in the U.S. between 2015-2019.
Enhancing business bottom lines. Electricity from rooftop solar panels on Maryland’s big box stores and shopping centers could offset these buildings’ annual electricity use by 39 percent, saving these businesses $173 million annually on their electricity bills.
As a part of this campaign, Environment Maryland Research & Policy and its national affiliate will engage Walmart customers to encourage the company to commit to going big on solar. The group will also release a new analysis of the potential solar capacity of big box stores rooftops and parking lots.
“Walmart’s slogan is ‘Save Money. Live Better’ and Americans know that living better means embracing renewable energy,” Breimann said. “That’s why 9 in 10 Americans support expanding solar power. Let’s put the rooftops and parking lots of these big box stores to good use so we can tap into the power of the sun near where we live, work and shop.”
Environment Maryland is a citizen-based environmental advocacy organization. We work to protect clean air, clean water, and open space. We have thousands of members across the state and are based in Baltimore.