Historically, environmentalists and multinational corporations have usually been on opposite sides of the fence. Recently, however, the two groups have found some common ground: solar power. Corporations are realizing that what’s in the best interest of their businesses and what’s in the best interest of the environment aren’t mutually exclusive, and as the costs of installing solar panels have plummeted, many corporate giants are adopting solar as a way to slash their energy costs and increase profits, while also creating goodwill with their stakeholders.
Environmentalists and Corporations Agree on Solar
These corporations come from a wide range of industries, and most don’t have a history of supporting pro-environmental causes. This suggests that something else may be at play here. Rather than being purely environmentally motivated, this shift seems to be rooted in sound business decision-making. Whatever the motivation, corporate adoption of solar power is making headlines. Here are just a few examples of companies making news with solar initiatives:
Since 2009 Intel has initiated or completed solar panel installations at 14 locations in the U.S. and Israel. Collectively these installations generate more than five million kWh of solar electricity per year, reducing Intel’s CO2 footprint by about 3,500 metric tons annually—the equivalent of planting 88,405 trees per year.
Whole Foods was one of the first major corporations to go solar. According to its latest Green Mission Report, the company has installed solar energy systems on 16 stores, plus one distribution center. The environmentally-conscious grocer also has up to 20 additional solar energy projects in the works. A typical solar installation on a Whole Foods store offsets CO2 emissions by about 1,500 metric tons over 20 years, which is the same as removing almost 300 passenger vehicles from the road.
Swedish retailer IKEA has installed solar panels on 26 U.S. stores and plans to install solar on at least 13 more stores, distribution centers, and office buildings in the near future. Many of IKEA’s solar projects are the largest commercial solar arrays in their respective states. Today, the total capacity of IKEA’s solar installations stands at 38 megawatts. The collective annual savings from IKEA’s solar projects is estimated to be well into the millions.
Hertz – the second-largest car-rental company in the United States – plans to install solar at as many as 11 separate locations in 2012, including major installations at John F. Kennedy and Newark Liberty International Airports. These two projects alone are estimated to save Hertz well over $100,000 per year in energy costs.
Walmart has already installed over 150 solar projects in the U.S. – well more than any other company on this list – and the retail giant has dozens more on the horizon. In May, Walmart announced plans to install solar panels on 27 stores in Massachusetts alone. Walmart estimates that together these projects will produce enough electricity to power more than 2,500 homes. Currently, Wal-Mart already has enough solar capacity to generate 62 megawatts of emissions-free electricity, which is equivalent to removing about 8,500 cars from the road.
Homeowners don’t need the financial resources of large corporations to save money using solar too. To learn how you can save money for your home or business with solar power, check out EnergySage’s page on solar photovoltaics. To see how other homeowners and businesses are saving money, check out the project profiles on Energysage installed systems page.