Just like Amazon, Walmart is expanding its solar network. The retailer announced a deal with SunPower last week that will bring solar energy to 19 stores and two distribution centers in Illinois, inching Walmart closer towards its 2025 environmental targets.
Construction on the new solar systems is set to commence in the first half of 2019. SunPower will install a combination of rooftop and ground-mounted solar panels at the Illinois locations, adding up to a collective 23 megawatts of power.
Walmart announced the agreement with an upcoming deadline in mind. By 2025, the company hopes to power its global operations with 50 percent renewable energy — a target that feeds into a larger corporate goal of reducing operations emissions by 18 percent in 2025.
“Solar is a vital component of Walmart’s expanding renewable energy portfolio,” Mark Vanderhelm, the vice president of energy for Walmart, Inc., said in a press release.
“Walmart plans to tirelessly pursue renewable energy projects that are right for our customers, our business and the environment. These planned projects with SunPower are moving us in the right direction toward our renewable energy goals.”
Under the power purchase agreement between Walmart and SunPower, Walmart will own the renewable energy credits (RECs) associated with the new solar systems. The company will purchase power “at competitive prices and hedge against future utility rate increases with no upfront capital costs,” according to the press release.
The installations will also provide a boost to Illinois’s power grid. Walmart claims the solar panels will increase the state’s current solar capacity by 25 percent, creating enough electricity to power almost 30,000 homes.
“These projects will create hundreds of jobs for Illinois’ growing solar workforce while reducing pollution across the state,” Lesley McCain, the executive director of the Illinois Solar Energy Association, said in the release.
Walmart has long been a corporate leader in solar power, ranking as one of the top producers in the United States. It was muscled out of the number one slot two years ago by Target, according to the annual Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) reports.