U.S. Corporate Giants Make Significant Investments To Boost Commercial Solar Capacity

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Analysis from national trade group shows that Walmart increases solar use by 35% in 2019 as Facebook jumps 18 places in corporate solar ranking and Apple remains on top for second year in a row

Tech giants, major retailers and other corporate leaders are making significant investments in clean energy and installed 1,286 megawatts (MW) of new commercial solar capacity in the United States in 2019, the second largest year on record according to the report, released today by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) tracking both on-site and off-site installations and highlights the strong appeal of cost-saving solar energy for American businesses.

Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of SEIA commented that, the world’s most recognizable brands were walking the walk when it came to their clean energy commitments. Businesses were choosing solar energy because it could significantly curb their energy costs and add predictability during the uncertain times. SEIA expects that the corporate sector would make greater investments in solar as businesses make and follow through on clean energy commitments to address the climate crisis.

Apple and Amazon remain in first and second place when it comes to the top corporate solar users, followed by Walmart, which installed the most solar in 2019 and increased its solar use by 35%. This year was also the largest year yet for onsite commercial solar installations with 845 MW installed.

Apple, which has the most off-site solar installed through 2019, now has nearly 400 MW of solar capacity in its portfolio and has recently committed to make its supply chain and products 100% carbon neutral by 2030.

Lisa Jackson, Apple’s Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives stated that, the choice between a healthy planet and a good business strategy had always been a false one, and they have proved that with a company that runs on 100% clean energy and a supply chain transitioning to do the same. Solar power had been a part of the company’s environmental journey for more than a decade, and they are grateful to the SEIA for this recognition of the strides they have made, and the strides of two of their suppliers also in the SEIA top 25. Together, they will reach the company’s goal of making all their products with a net zero climate impact by 2030, and hopefully, inspire others to act urgently in defense of the planet and future generations.

The report tracks 8,358 MW of commercial solar capacity across more than 38,000 systems. Combined, the systems generate enough electricity each year to power 1.6 million homes and offset 8.9 million metric tons of CO2 annually. For perspective, each week more than 7.2 million people, or 2.2% of the U.S. population, shop at a Walmart store with a solar installation.

The company’s growth in solar use reflected in their ongoing and longstanding commitment to climate action, including getting to 100% renewable energy globally by 2035. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and avoiding the worst effects of climate change would take sustained, collective action. It has been terrific to see so many companies growing their solar use and taking steps towards a renewable future, stated Kathleen McLaughlin, Chief Sustainability Officer, Walmart Inc. 

Corporations continue to procure off-site solar to power their operations and meet their ambitious clean energy goals. Over the next few years, an additional 5 GW of corporate off-site solar projects are slated to come online, which will more than double the total amount of off-site corporate solar.

Chris Roe, Energy and Sustainable Operations Lead at Amazon commented that, as a signatory to The Climate Pledge, the company has committed to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement 10 years early and reaching net zero carbon across Amazon by 2040 and as a part of this commitment, they are well on their way to power Amazon operations using 100% renewable energy by 2025, with over 90 wind and solar projects across the globe.

Facebook, one of the top buyers of off-site solar is making its first appearance in the top 10 and made the biggest leap forward, jumping from 27th to 9th on the top corporate solar users list. Target, the company with the most solar capacity installed at its facilities, finished 2019 with a total of 283 MW of solar capacity. The company now has more than 500 solar projects in its portfolio.

Companies are also doubling down on their clean energy commitments. Several corporations on this list recently announced more aggressive clean energy goals, including Google, which is ranked 5th and now plans to run its data centers and corporate campuses on 100% carbon-free power by 2030. Walmart also announced that it plans to power its facilities globally with 100 % renewable energy by 2035 and is targeting zero emissions across its global operations by 2040.

Other companies on the list, including Amazon, Microsoft, and Solvay have recently announced new initiatives and investments to lower emissions and green their operations.

The company was honored to be recognized again by SEIA for their commitment to increasing solar power in their operations, stated Pascal Chalvon Demersay, Solvay’s Chief Sustainability & Energy Officer. Solar power played a key role in their Solvay One Planet initiative, which aimed to reduce their emissions by 26% by 2030. The company continues to develop solar projects to help enable the energy transition, particularly in the US, added Demersay.

Others, like Prologis, have specific goals for rooftop solar and Switch and Walmart are beginning to use energy storage.

Adam Kramer,EVP of Strategy, Switch commented that, the acknowledgement further cemented Switch’s position as a leader in sustainability, which tremendously benefited their customers, the communities where they operate and the planet. Switch continued to lead the challenge to expand solar by recently breaking ground on critical projects like Rob Roy’s Gigawatt Nevada, which would generate a Gigawatt of solar combined with battery storage, providing clean energy solutions far into the future.

As the world’s largest owner and operator of logistics real estate, Prologis has been committed to minimizing the environmental impacts, and every solar panel installed helped them to get closer in the transition to clean energy. Rooftop solar has been a vital component of Prologis’ growing portfolio of customer-focused renewable energy solutions, and they are proud to be honored by SEIA as the company works towards its’ goal of doubling their onsite generating capacity to 400 megawatts by 2025, stated Jared Friedman, Prologis, vice president of Global Energy.

The top 25 corporate solar users includes:

1. Apple

2. Amazon

3. Walmart

4. Target

5. Google

6. Kaiser Permanente

7. Switch

8. Prologis

9. Facebook

10. Solvay

11. Fifth Third Bank

12. Microsoft

13. Brookfield Properties Retail

14. IKEA

15. Macys

16. Kohls

17. Costco Wholesale

18. Corning

19. Starbucks

20. Paypal

21. Home Depot

22. Hartz Mountain

23. Lockheed Martin

24. Digital Realty

25. ALDI

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