New campaign asks Walmart to go big on solar

Media Contacts
Ben Hellerstein

Former State Director, Environment Massachusetts

Retail giant has made some progress but could be an industry leader for renewable power

Environment Massachusetts

BOSTON – Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center announced today that it has joined a new national campaign asking Walmart to install solar panels on the roofs of nearly all of its 5,000-plus locations across America, and over the parking lots that surround them, by 2035.

There are 48 Walmart stores in Massachusetts.

“Walmart can be a leader in the renewable energy movement by going big on solar,” said Ben Hellerstein, state director for Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center. “This company revolutionized retail in the United States in the 20th century, and it could be a key player in revolutionizing the production and consumption of energy in the 21st.”

Walmart is the largest retailer in the United States, and 90 percent of Americans live within 10 miles of one of its locations. Based on a 2016 report from Environment America Research & Policy Center, Walmart could install 5,844 megawatts of rooftop solar capacity, producing enough electricity annually to power 660,000 American households.

In 2014, the company set a goal of installing nearly 500 on-site solar projects at U.S. Walmart stores, Sam’s Club locations and distribution centers by 2020. Through 2019, the company was the nation’s second-largest business installer of on-site solar panels, coming in just behind Target. A commitment to put solar panels on nearly all of their stores, distribution centers and accompanying parking lots by 2035 would position Walmart as a national corporate leader in transitioning to renewable energy.

Solar panels at Walmart locations and on the roofs and parking lots of other big box stores would benefit the environment, electricity customers, and the businesses themselves. These benefits include:

  • Protecting the environment. The rooftops of Massachusetts’ big box stores and shopping centers could host enough solar capacity to generate the same amount of electricity needed to power 108,000 homes.
  • Using energy more efficiently. Generating electricity with rooftop solar panels reduces energy losses associated with transmission. That means saving approximately 5 percent of all electricity transmitted and distributed in the U.S. between 2015-2019.
  • Saving money for businesses. Electricity from rooftop solar panels on Massachusetts’ big box stores and shopping centers could offset these buildings’ annual electricity use by 35 percent, saving these businesses $167 million annually on their electricity bills.

As a part of this campaign, Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy and its national affiliate will engage Walmart customers to encourage the company to go big on solar. The group will also release a new analysis of the potential solar capacity that could be installed on the rooftops and parking lots of big box stores.

“Walmart’s slogan is ‘Save Money, Live Better,’ and Americans know that living better means embracing renewable energy,” Hellerstein said. “That’s why 9 in 10 Americans support expanding solar power. Let’s put the rooftops and parking lots of these big box stores to good use, and tap into the power of the sun near where we live, work and shop.”