New report: Rooftop solar on California’s warehouses could power nearly 5 million households

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LOS ANGELES – Covering the roofs of California’s warehouses and distribution centers with solar panels could generate enough clean electricity to power nearly 5 million households in the state, according to Solar on Warehouses, a new report from Environment California Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group. 

“California needs more rooftop solar, and expansive, flat warehouse roofs are the perfect spots for solar panels,” said Steven King, clean energy advocate with Environment California Research & Policy Center. “More solar on warehouses would help preserve open space, reduce pollution and produce much needed renewable energy throughout the state.”

California has more than 66,000 warehouses and distribution centers, with many more under construction. Cumulatively, these warehouses have more than 1.5 billion square feet of rooftop space, which could generate more than 32 terawatt-hours (TWh) of solar electricity each year, enough to power almost 5 million households. The United States as a whole has more than 450,000 warehouses and distribution centers, with more than 16.4 billion square feet of rooftop space that could power nearly 19.4 million households.

Generating the full amount of clean solar power potential from America’s warehouses would reduce global warming pollution equivalent to more than 112 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. That’s like removing 24 million gasoline-powered passenger vehicles from the road for a year or taking 30 coal-fired power plants offline.

“It’s time to eliminate the barriers that prevent us from maximizing the benefits of rooftop solar for businesses, electricity customers, the grid and the environment,” said Johanna Neumann, senior director of Environment America Research & Policy Center’s Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy. 

The report recommends that:

  • businesses invest in solar generation capacity on their facilities; 
  • all levels of government support solar energy adoption with policies such as net metering, feed-in tariffs and/or value-of-solar payments; 
  • all levels of government streamline the process for and reduce the costs of solar permitting and interconnection.

“Putting solar on warehouse roofs is not just a great environmental decision, it’s also a smart business decision. More warehouse owners should use these ideal spots to produce clean energy, avert harmful pollution, increase the value of their property, and save on their electricity bills,” said Terry Tamminen, president and CEO of AltaSea at the Port of Los Angeles.

California has the largest warehouse solar generation potential in the United States, followed by Florida, Illinois, Texas and Georgia.