Walmart’s sustainability initiatives frequently come under fire, and we have often been among those to point at Walmart’s repeated failure to live up to its green promises.
Last week however, a report by the Solar Energy Industries Association shone a more positive light on the big box goliath. Walmart has more installed solar capacity and more solar energy systems than any other US company in existence. Costco, Kohl’s, Ikea and Macy’s were among the other top solar producers in the country. Compared to Costco, the runner up, Walmart has significantly more solar capacity, with 65,000 kW versus 38,900 kW.
However, when you consider that Walmart is the largest company in the world, it makes sense that they have more solar capacity than other large companies. In the US, 2% of the company’s power comes from renewable sources. A company spokeswoman recently said in an interview with Businessweek that the company hopes to have 1,000 solar-powered locations by 2020 (out of 4,522 stores).
Increasingly cheap solar panels and attractive solar financing plans mean that corporate solar installations will continue to become more prominent in the coming years. Over the next half a decade, businesses and other large energy consumers are expected to install 7,000 megawatts of solar PV systems, or enough power to replace seven coal plants. Walmart will likely be a big part of it.
This doesn’t paint the company in green for me though—sure they are producing solar power, but it’s important to keep in mind that if Walmart was a country, it would rank 79 out of 140 for CO2 emissions between Yemen and Tunisia. They have failed on most of their environmental commitments and their “disposable” pricing encourages higher levels of waste than ever.
But this is a step in the right direction. Does it change your opinion of the company?