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:

RankCompanyPV Capacity
1Walmart65,000 kilowatts
2 Costco38,900 kilowatts
3Kohl's Department Stores36,474 kilowatts
4 IKEA21,495 kilowatts
5 Macy's16,163 kilowatts
6 McGraw-Hill14,113 kilowatts
7 Johnson & Johnson11,619 kilowatts
8 Staples, Inc.10,776 kilowatts
9 Campbell's Soup9,900 kilowatts
10 Walgreens8,163 kilowatts
11 Bed, Bath & Beyond7,543 kilowatts
12 Toys 'R' Us5,676 kilowatts
13 General Motors5,630 kilowatts
14 FedEx4,889 kilowatts
15 White Rose Foods4,888 kilowatts
16 Dow Jones4,100 kilowatts
17 Snyder's of Hanover3,500 kilowatts
18 ProLogis 3,499 kilowatts
19 Hartz Mountain Industries3,438 kilowatts
20Crayola3,356 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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