Reflective of the growing popularity and increasing growth of solar nationwide, many of America’s leading Fortune 100 companies continue to significantly ramp up their use of clean solar energy, according to the third annual Solar Means Business report. The report was created by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) in order to identify solar leaders in the commercial segment.
The comprehensive report, which identifies major commercial solar projects and ranks top corporate solar users, shows Walmart at the top of the list for the third year in a row with 105 MW installed at 254 locations.
Rounding out the Top 25 companies using solar are Kohl’s, Costco, Apple, IKEA, Macy’s, Johnson & Johnson, Target, McGraw Hill, Staples, Campbell’s Soup, U.S. Foods, Bed Bath & Beyond, Kaiser Permanente, Volkswagen, Walgreens, Safeway, FedEx, Intel, L’Oreal, General Motors, Toys “R” Us, Verizon, White Rose Foods, Toyota, and AT&T. These names are worth listing to illustrate how many well-known brands are embracing solar.
Combined, these blue chip companies have deployed 569 MW of solar capacity at 1100 locations – a 28% increase over a year ago and a 103% increase since 2012, when the first report was released. Representing a “Who’s Who” of the corporate world, these companies are playing an increasingly important role in the development, expansion, and promotion of solar nationwide, while also reducing their operating expenses, benefiting customers and shareholders alike.
“What do Walmart, Costco, and Apple have in common besides selling cell phones and computers? These iconic brands, and many others like them, are all investing big in solar energy,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch. “These forward-looking companies are helping to create thousands of American jobs, boost the U.S. economy, and improve our environment. The 1,110 commercial solar systems currently in operation are generating enough clean electricity to prevent 549,296 metric tons of damaging carbon emissions from being released into our air. That’s the equivalent of saving nearly 62 million gallons of gasoline.”
Today, IKEA leads all companies in the percentage of their facilities that are solar powered, with nearly 9 out of 10 stores now using clean, reliable, and affordable solar energy. General Motors is next in line at 43%.
According to the report, the “growing adoption of solar by the commercial sector is predominantly the result of consistent price declines. The average price of a completed commercial PV project in Q2 2014 has dropped by 14% year over year and 45% since 2012. As solar prices continue to fall, more businesses in more states turn to solar to cut operating costs.”
“Going solar is a smart way for these blue chip companies to increase value for their shareholders,” said Nat Kreamer, CEO of Clean Power Finance and SEIA Board Chairman. “Businesses are dealing with higher and more volatile electric rates. At the same time, price declines and financing innovations have reduced the upfront cost of solar. These, and other factors, make solar a sound business decision today, and consistent policies at the state and federal levels will make solar a top three energy source for the U.S. in the future.”
A similar study was recently undertaken by CDP, which has compiled a unique index that looks at almost 2000 companies’ climate change mitigation efforts. It then ranks these companies based on CDP’s scoring methodology.
In total, 187 businesses have achieved an A grade for their climate change mitigation activities. The U.S. is the country with the highest number of leaders, including Apple., Google, Microsoft, and Walmart.
Paul Simpson, Chief Executive Officer of CDP, said, “The unprecedented environmental challenges that we confront today are also economic problems. This irrefutable fact is filtering through to companies and investors. The businesses that have made it onto our first global list of climate performance leaders are to be congratulated for their progress; they debunk economic arguments against reducing emissions. However, global emissions continue to rise at an alarming rate. Businesses and governments must raise their climate ambition. The data shows that there is neither an excuse nor the time for lethargy.”
Underscoring this is a recent charge that Walmart is undermining rooftop solar at the same time as it adds solar to its own facilities. Although the situation may be more complicated, apparently the company still generates only 3% of its power from wind and solar combined (it can still be at the top of the list in amount of solar because of its sheer size). This shows that for at least one business, there is indeed room for growth. As more businesses find that solar does more than enhance their public image and also helps their bottom line, we’re likely to see more of that growth.