MINNEAPOLIS - 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 America 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 the Minneapolis-based Target to go big on solar, today the group, together with its affiliates in Minnesota and a dozen other states, 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 already has nearly 350 installations across the country.
According to the latest data available summarized in the report, “Solar on 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.
“Superstores need parents as customers, and parents need clean energy for our kids," and said Lisa Hoyos, Director and Co-Founder of Climate Parents. “The Targets of the world should do all they can to reduce their carbon footprints and invest in solar on their rooftops.”
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.
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.
“Stand on the rooftop of a Target or other superstore, and you’ll see a perfect spot for solar panels—flat and exposed to the sun,” said Gideon Weissman of Frontier Group, report co-author. “In our research we found 4 billion square feet of empty roof space that could be put to good use capturing clean energy.”
In addition to calling directly on Target and other major retailers to install solar panels on all of their roofs, Environment America urged government policies to help facilitate rooftop solar, such as net metering and third-party financing.
“Rather than waste energy through transmission or fire up expensive, polluting peaking power plants to meet temporary demand,” said Environment America’s Fanshaw, also a report co-author, “we should do all we can to encourage the production of solar energy on our rooftops, close to where we live, work, and shop.”