Target making inroads on solar power, but Environment Minnesota “expects more”

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Environment Minnesota Research and Policy Center

Minneapolis, MN   – Target has pledged to put solar 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, advocacy group Environment Minnesota said today.

“Target has made progress on solar,” said Bret Fanshaw, Solar Program coordinator with Environment America. “But, just like the ads say, we ‘expect more,’ especially when the company has so much potential to cut pollution, reduce energy waste, and save money.”

To launch its campaign to get Target to go big on solar, today the group, together with its national federation Environment America, released a new analysis of the nation’s 96,000 “big box” retailers, shopping centers, and grocery chains and their capacity for and progress toward rooftop solar.

Target’s solar potential is second only behind competitor Walmart, which has already installed at least 142 MW of solar energy.

According to the latest data available summarized in the report, “Solar on America’s Superstores,” Walmart leads the pack in total solar panels already installed, followed by Costco, Kohl’s, and IKEA.

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 75 stores in Minnesota.

“Community Power stands with Environment Minnesota, and its parent Environment America, in urging Target to take the next step in going 100% solar,” Said Marcus Mills of Community Solar.

Rooftop solar on big box stores like Target is good for the environment, good for electricity consumers, and good for business, the report says.

Using existing roof space on all of the nation’s big retail chain stores and shopping centers could nearly triple U.S. solar capacity, reducing climate-warming carbon pollution by 57 million metric tons annually – the same produced in a year by 12 million vehicles. And we could cut 919 thousand metric tons of carbon pollution in Minnesota alone.

Producing electricity on rooftops, close to where the electricity will be used also reduces losses that happen during electricity transmission – losses which totaled 5 percent of electricity sales in 2012.

Rooftop solar is also good for business. Electricity produced by rooftop panels on all the big box stores and shopping centers analyzed in today’s report could offset enough electricity to save these businesses $8.2 billion annually on their electricity bills. Minnesota business locations could save $91 million annually on their electricity bills.

“Target’s commitment to solar will not only reduce fossil fuel pollution, it will spur the creation of even more good-paying, skills oriented jobs.” said Ryan Buege, director for sales and marketing at All Energy Solar.

In addition to calling directly on Target and other major retailers to install solar panels on their roofs, Environment Minnesota urged the governor and state leaders to help facilitate rooftop solar by defending pro-solar policies from attacks in the house. 

“Superstore roofs are perfect locations for solar panels. They are mostly flat and almost always fully exposed to the sun,” said Fanshaw. “We found 4 billion square feet of empty roof space around the country that can and should be put to better use capturing pollution-free energy.”