Walmart's one-megawatt solar array in Southern California is the company's biggest... so far.
Whether you shop there or not, Walmart's goal of being 100 percent renewable energy-powered is going to have a positive impact on the renewable energy industry. Nowhere is that clearer than in California where the company's plan to double solar energy use in the next over the next 12 months took a big step forward Monday as the company put the finishing touches on a 1-megawatt solar photovoltaic plant at its distribution center in Apple Valley, in the southern part of the state.
The 5,300 solar panels spread across almost seven acres will make use of the California desert's strong solar resource to generate the equivalent electricity needs of 175 homes.
"Solar energy is an important resource in Southern California," said Ginger Coleman an Apple Valley Town Councilmember. Coleman applauded Walmart for being "a great community partner," that isn't "just talking about being a more sustainable company, they're acting on it."
The Apple Valley Distribution Center solar project is part of a larger solar power pilot project Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) announced in May 2007 to purchase solar power systems for about twenty Walmarts and Sam’s Clubs and distribution centers in California and Hawaii.
“The completion of these facilities marks another important step in our drive to become more sustainable and achieve our goal of being supplied 100 percent by renewable energy,” said Kimberly Sentovich, vice president and regional general manager for Walmart. “Increasing the use of solar energy is a benefit for the environment and makes business sense, as well.”
Once completed, Walmart's solar systems in California will generate about 32 gigawatt-hours of energy annually, or the equivalent of the power needs for more than 2,600 homes.
Follow Tim Hurst on twitter @ecopolitologist