New report: Rooftop solar on America’s warehouses could power every household in every state’s largest city

Media Contacts
Johanna Neumann

Senior Director, Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy, Environment America Research & Policy Center

For a full media resource that includes a link to the report and data visualization, drone footage of warehouse solar arrays, photos from the launch event, videos of speakers and B-roll, please visit this link.

BOSTON – Covering the roofs of America’s warehouses and distribution centers with solar panels could generate enough clean electricity to power every household in every state’s largest city, according to Solar on Warehouses, a new report from Environment America Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group. 

“What the world needs now is rooftop solar, which produces inexpensive clean energy, averts harmful pollution and preserves open space,” said Susan Rakov, chair of Environment America Research & Policy Center’s clean energy program and managing director of Frontier Group. “If we want to create a clean energy future, we should look first to the already-built environment that could host the tools we need.  Warehouse rooftops provide a perfect opportunity – they’re big, they’re flat, and they’re begging to be put to this crucial use.”

The United States has more than 450,000 warehouses and distribution centers, with many more under construction. Cumulatively, America’s warehouses have almost 16.4 billion square feet of rooftop space – about twice the area of Memphis, Tennessee, one of the 30 largest U.S. cities. Putting solar on all these warehouse roofs could generate 185.6 terawatt-hours (TWh) of solar electricity each year, enough to power almost 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.

“The big, flat and sun-kissed rooftops of America’s warehouses are perfect places to put solar panels,” said Johanna Neumann, senior director of Environment America Research & Policy Center’s Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy. “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.” 

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.

“The key to realizing the solar potential of warehouse rooftops is for warehouse owners to connect with solar developers and for utility companies to quickly connect rooftop solar systems to the grid,” said Alex Keally, senior vice president for Solect Energy, a Massachusetts-based company that has completed numerous solar installations on warehouse rooftops. 

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