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More American businesses are installing solar than ever before

Author - SEIA   Company - SEIA   Date-December 1, 2015

Growth in the use of solar energy has surged 183 percent among America’s top companies in the four years since the first Solar Means Business report was published. The study released today by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) also shows a 59 percent growth in solar installations since just last year.

For the fourth year in a row, Walmart ranked No.1 in the Solar Means Business report, which identifies major commercial solar projects and ranks top corporate solar users. The big box retailer, based in Bentonville, Ark., boasts a robust 142 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity at 348 locations.

Other top companies recognized for both their amount of solar capacity and number of solar installations include Kohl’s, Apple, Macy’s, Walgreens, Target, IKEA, Prologis, FedEx, Intel, General Motors, Verizon, Johnson & Johnson, Bed Bath & Beyond, Safeway, Hartz Mountain, Staples, L’Oreal, Kaiser Permanente and Toyota.

“These blue-chip companies have realized investing in solar is a common-sense, cost-effective decision that pays dividends for both the environment and their bottom lines,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch. “Not only are they helping to create thousands of American jobs in solar, the nearly 1,700 systems currently in operation are generating enough clean, reliable electricity to offset nearly 890,000 metric tons of harmful carbon emissions a year.”

"Solar is an important part of our renewable energy program,” said Mark Vanderhelm, vice president of energy for Walmart. “We believe in advancing solar deployment by pursuing projects that make business sense.  In fact, in 2014 we committed to doubling the number of on-site solar energy projects at our U.S. stores, Sam’s Clubs and distribution centers by 2020.  We’re excited about our continued work towards meeting that goal and appreciate being acknowledged by SEIA for these efforts."

The report notes that growth in corporate solar adoption is no longer limited to traditional solar markets, but that “solar is a smart business decision wherever your business may be.”

Combined, America’s top corporate solar users installed 1,686 systems totaling 907 MW of solar. 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.

“Prioritizing renewable energy options like solar power at our facilities not only helps us reduce our spending on traditional energy but also reduces business risk and our impact on climate change,” said Rob Threlkeld, GM global manager of renewable energy. “As a result, we regained our ranking as the top automotive user of solar in the U.S.”

“Over the last decade, L’Oreal USA has been persistent in improving our environmental performance through innovative sustainability solutions,” said Jonathan Maher, Vice President of CSR & Sustainability at L’Oreal USA. “SEIA’s efforts to promote solar energy usage align with our approach to examine every opportunity to increase our solar output, as shown in the latest Solar Means Business ranking. Our significant solar capabilities and energy efficiency achievements are thanks to our dedicated employees and facilities, who continue to infuse social and environmental sustainability into every aspect of L’Oréal’s business.”

The 2.7 MW solar array at FedEx's facility in Hagerstown, MD consists of nearly 9,000 individual modules and offsets 37% of their electricity demand. Photo credit: FedEx

“FedEx is committed to connecting the world responsibly and resourcefully,” said Mitch Jackson, vice president of Environmental Affairs and Sustainability, FedEx Corporation. “This includes minimizing impacts on the environment with our 15 solar installations, helping us avoid more than 4,600 metric tons of CO2 emissions in FY15, reducing our environmental footprint.”

“Solar energy is an integral part of Intel’s renewable energy portfolio, and we are committed to embracing, evaluating and implementing new projects and innovative learnings around the world,” said Marty Sedler, director of Global Utilities and Infrastructure at Intel Corporation. “Solar will continue to be a core part of our alternative energy solution because it provides leadership, helps spur the market, makes renewables more accessible, and reduces the overall carbon emissions from electricity generation directly used for our facilities.”

Key takeaways from the report:

·         • This report covers more than 1,686 individual commercial solar systems around the country with a combined installed capacity of 907 megawatts (MW), enough to power more than 158,000 homes.        

·         • The amount of solar installed at U.S. corporations and businesses is enough to offset 890,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year.

·         • The average price of a commercial photovoltaic (PV) system has dropped by nearly 30 percent in the past 3 years. With prices continuing to fall and at $3.03/W in Q2 2015, commercial solar prices are the lowest they’ve ever been and are continuing to fall.

·         • Walmart continues to lead the pack with more than 142 megawatts of installed solar across 348 systems.

·         • One of the sector’s fastest-growing areas is in carports, where 42 of the 67 carport solar systems have been installed since 2012.

·         • The companies covered in the Solar Means Business report have installed more than 338 MW of solar in the last year, representing an 59% percent increase over installations tracked in 2014

·         • There are now commercial solar installations in 38 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, with systems expanding this year to Arkansas, Kansas and Indiana

 

Source: SEIA