Report highlights potential for solar energy on big box stores

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Jennifer Rubiello

Environment Florida

Click here to download Solar on Superstores: How the Roofs of Big Box Stores Can Help America Shift to Clean Energy.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.– Big-box stores, grocery chains, and shopping centers in Florida could cut pollution and save 508 million dollars with rooftop solar, a new report said today.

The Environment Florida analysis, “Solar on America’s Superstores,” found that Target, Home Depot, and other large retailers could avert 3,097 tons of carbon pollution annually if they used all their available roof space for solar panels.

“Our report shows that rooftop solar on big box stores like Target is good for the environment, good for electricity consumers, and good for business,” said Jennifer Rubiello, state director with Environment Florida.

The report came as the Florida state legislature considers bills that will make it easier for businesses to provide and for consumers to access renewable energy. The bills will encourage the growth of solar adoption by exempting renewable energy improvements for all real property from property taxes.

“Floridians and our businesses are often unable to take advantage of our abundant solar resource because restrictive regulations discourage businesses in the growing renewable energy sector,” said Susan Glickman, Florida Director for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “Solar energy should be a thriving industry in the Sunshine State.”

Superstore roofs are perfect locations for solar panels because they are mostly flat and almost always fully exposed to the sun. Producing electricity on rooftops, close to where it will be used, also reduces losses that happen during electricity transmission – losses which, around the country, totaled 5 percent of electricity sales in 2012.

Nationally, the report found solar on superstores could nearly triple U.S. solar capacity, cut carbon pollution by 57 million metric tons, and save businesses $8.2 billion in electricity costs.

Environment Florida released their analysis together with its national federation, Environment America, which launched a nationwide campaign today urging Target to put solar panels on all of its retail stores.

The Target chain has 240 million square feet of roof space suitable for solar in North America, the equivalent of 4,000 football fields. Target has about 120 stores in Florida.

The retail giant has pledged to put panels on a quarter of its stores, but the company could cut pollution dramatically and even save its customers money by putting panels on all of its nearly 2,000 rooftops in North America, the group said.

“Target has made progress on solar,” said Bret Fanshaw, Solar Program coordinator with Environment America. “But, just like the ads say, we ‘expect more.”