Anyone who has followed my writing with even a modicum of regularity knows that I kind of have a thing for wind turbines. It doesn't matter if they're giant wind turbines, floating wind turbines, micro-wind turbines or vertical axis wind turbines, if it spins and generates energy, I'm usually fascinated by it. And when it's part of a broad clean energy strategy undertaken by enormous private sector players like Walmart, I take special interest.
A Sam's Club store in Palmdale, California has become the first retailer in the country to install a mini-farm of micro-wind turbines on a parking lot. The 17 Skystream 3.7 micro wind-turbines will provide an estimated 76,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy annually (which is roughly enough to power for six average American homes for a year) or about 3%-5% of the store's energy needs.
The Palmdale site was selected for the pilot project among all of the Walmart-owned properties in the U.S. because of the excellent--and consistent--wind resource at the edge of the desert in southern California.
"We are thrilled to be the first to demonstrate micro wind turbines in a retail environment and pleased this project complements other wind and solar installations in California,” said Paul Stone, senior vice president, West Division, Sam’s Club.
The completion of this project bolsters the company’s renewable energy portfolio in California, including solar installations at 28 Walmart and Sam’s Club sites and fuel cell installations at two Walmart stores.
Sam's Club parent company, Walmart Stores, has a short-term goal of reducing carbon emissions across its supply chain and a long-term goal of being completely powered by renewable energy.
"We are optimistic that this exciting micro wind turbine project at the Palmdale Sam’s Club and another pilot location will be successful and that the micro turbines will be installed, operated and maintained while helping to lower our operating costs,” said Kim Saylors-Laster, vice president, Energy at Walmart . “With each new project we learn more that can be applied to help us achieve our goal to be supplied by renewable energy.”
Sam's is working with Massachusetts-based DeerPath Energy which provides turn-key micro-wind energy support, including the permitting, installation, finance and maintenance of micro-wind turbines. Similar installations are also planned for a new Walmart store in Worcester, Mass., as well as other locations moving forward.