Report: Walmart, Costco Lead In Commercial Solar Capacity

Rooftop Solar at the Santa Ana Walmart | Photo: Walmart Stores/Flickr/Creative Commons License

A report on commercial rooftop solar installations released this week by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) examines the companies who've installed the most rooftop solar on their properties nationwide, and the large discount retail chain Walmart leads in both number of installations and total installed generating capacity. The Swedish warehouse retailer Ikea leads the country in the proportion of its stores with solar PV installed, at 79%.

The report, "Solar Means Business: Top Commercial Solar Customers in the U.S.," was released at Solar Power International 2012, a solar power trade event held September 10-13 in Orlando, Florida. The report ranked businesses by installations in place as of mid-August.

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Walmart's lead in both number of installations and capacity will come as no surprise to ReWire readers: the chain has been installing photovoltaic generating capacity on its abundant rooftops at an aggressive pace. Ranked by the number of systems each company has installed, Walmart leads with 144 stores -- at least 100 of which are in California, a testament to the state's incentives for commercial solar.

Listed by installed solar capacity nationwide, the top 20 companies in SEIA's ranking are:

Rank Company PV Capacity
1 Walmart 65,000 kilowatts
2 Costco 38,900 kilowatts
3 Kohl's Department Stores 36,474 kilowatts
4 IKEA 21,495 kilowatts
5 Macy's 16,163 kilowatts
6 McGraw-Hill 14,113 kilowatts
7 Johnson & Johnson 11,619 kilowatts
8 Staples, Inc. 10,776 kilowatts
9 Campbell's Soup 9,900 kilowatts
10 Walgreens 8,163 kilowatts
11 Bed, Bath & Beyond 7,543 kilowatts
12 Toys 'R' Us 5,676 kilowatts
13 General Motors 5,630 kilowatts
14 FedEx 4,889 kilowatts
15 White Rose Foods 4,888 kilowatts
16 Dow Jones 4,100 kilowatts
17 Snyder's of Hanover 3,500 kilowatts
18 ProLogis 3,499 kilowatts
19 Hartz Mountain Industries 3,438 kilowatts
20 Crayola3,356 kilowatts

The installations account for 279 megawatts of generating capacity, equivalent to a mid-sized natural gas power plant.

Adam Browning, executive director of the San Francisco-based renewable energy advocacy group Vote Solar, lauded the companies. "What do all of these major businesses have in common? They know a good deal when they see one, and so they are all going solar in a big way across the U.S."

It's worth noting that when SEIA ranked U.S. companies by the number of solar power installations, half the firms made it onto the "top 20" list with fewer than 20 facilities, suggesting immense room for growth. Only Walmart, Walgreens, and Kohl's Department stores had more than 100 installations in August.

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About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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