Corporate Solar Installations

Walmart Solar Roof

The Solar Energy Industries Association have released their 2017 report on solar energy usage in corporate America. Once again, Target is sitting in first place with over 200 MW of solar installed across 425 installations. In second place, Walmart has almost 150 MW of capacity at the 371 stores they’ve installed solar at.

Here’s the top 5 tabulated:

Rank Company Total Capacity Installations
1 Target 203.5 425
2 Walmart 149.4 371
3 Prologis 120.7 52
4 Apple 79.4 5
5 Kohl’s 51.5 85

It is great to see these large companies adding solar (and the next 5 on the list contains some equally big names from both online and brick & mortar worlds). Two things surprise me though:

  1. The fact that relatively new stores do not get built with solar from day one;
  2. That more of the existing stores have not yet been modified to include solar.

On that second point, 425 Target stores is less than 25% of their locations. The number of Walmart locations is less than 8% (just counting the primary brand stores, not locations like Sam’s Club), and those 51 Kohl’s stores are around 4% of their locations.

Solar Required

San Francisco already has a requirement that all new buildings less than 10 stories high include solar panels. The same idea is being proposed at the state level (by the same politician). It amazes more that more cities do not do this. Especially cities that are otherwise relatively progressive when it comes to renewable power.

Alameda, for example, has a city owned utility that has been offering an optional 100% renewable electricity plan for a number of years now. It is also in the midst of a construction boom with new buildings popping up all over the place. The new Alameda Landing shopping area appears to have no roof-top solar at all, despite being anchored by a Target store. The newly built, almost $1M condos in the same development also lack solar (although the “affordable” housing units do appear to have roof top solar).

In fact, a quick fly-over in a mapping tool with satellite views didn’t show that many commercial buildings in the city with roof top solar at all. Neither of the two main business districts (Park St. and Webster St.) show any signs of solar. None of the five shopping malls (South Shore Center, Alameda Landing, Bridgeside Shopping Center, Marina Village and the Harbor Bay Landing Shopping Center), show any signs in the satellite pics of having rooftop solar either. Doesn’t appear to be any at the schools or the college either.


While it is great to see these large companies adding solar, there is still a long way to go before even a majority of their locations have solar roof installations. For smaller retailers, especially in older buildings, persuading the landlord to allow and/or install solar is likely to be even harder to do.

Even some residential locations have their challenges, with HOA boards who dislike the look of solar panels trying to block them, or have them hidden on areas of the roof that potentially get less sunlight. Although in California at least, the state has passed laws making it more difficult for an HOA to block a solar installation. [It would be better to see HOAs completely blocked from interference in the installation of anything that has a positive impact on the environment and is already covered by city permitting and building codes.]

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