Solar’s high price tag once limited its use to those willing or required to pay more for cleaner power — but that’s quickly changing. A dramatic drop in panel prices means we are now in a new era of solar: one in which solar technology costs are no longer the major barrier to scale.
Installed solar capacity continued to grow across Europe in 2011 despite a decline in subsidies for green energy continent-wide, according to a new report.
Roughly 18.5 gigawatts of new solar photovoltaic energy capacity were installed in the European Union during 2011, about two-thirds of the world’s increase
Last week Vote Solar and our partners at SEIA released a report on the Top 20 corporate users of solar power in the U.S. Our Executive Director Adam Browning joined SEIA’s Rhone Resch and GM’s Head of Renewable Energy at a press conference to announce the findings at Solar Power International in Orlando. Those findings might surprise you . . .
The Top 20 in terms of the amount of on-site solar capacity installed are: Walmart, Costco, Kohl’s Department Stores, IKEA, Macy’s, McGraw-Hill, Johnson & Johnson, Staples, Inc., Campbell’s Soup, Walgreens, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Toys ‘R’ Us, General Motors, FedEx, White Rose Foods, Dow Jones, Snyder’s of Hanover, ProLogis, Hartz Mountain Industries, and Crayola. See the full report at www.seia.org/SolarTop20
“What do all of these major businesses have in common?” Browning asks. “They know a good deal when they see one, and so they are all going solar in a big way across the U.S.”
In fact, the Top 20 corporate solar users’ installations generate an estimated $47.3 million worth of electricity each year. The industry more than doubled the amount of solar installed in the U.S. in the second quarter of this year compared to 2011, and growth is expected to continue in the second half of 2012.
Other companies that are significant users of solar include Apple, Bloomberg LP, Del Monte Foods, GE, Google, Intel, JC Penny, Kaiser Permanente, Lackland Storage, Lord & Taylor, L’OREAL USA, MARS SNACKFOOD, US Foods LLC, Stop and Shop, Merck, REI, SAS Institute Inc., and Tiffany & CO.
“These companies know that solar energy allows them to reliably manage their long-term energy costs and in turn also helps to keep their customer prices low,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch. “Solar helps these top American companies focus on their core business by reducing overhead costs.”
Some of our other key findings from the report:
The amount of solar installed by the Top 20 solar-powered companies could power more than 46,500 average American homes. Altogether, U.S. commercial solar installations could power more than 390,000 American homes.
The companies analyzed for this report have deployed more than 700 individual solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on their facilities in at least 25 states and Puerto Rico.
More than 1.2 million solar PV panels were used for the Top 20 corporate solar users’ installations. Combined, these arrays would cover more than 544 acres of rooftops.
Walmart and Costco combined have more solar PV installed on their store rooftops than all of the PV capacity deployed in the state of Florida, the Sunshine State.
The top 10 companies (by capacity) have individually deployed more solar energy than most electric utilities in the U.S.
But don’t take it from us. Read what these smart businesses have to say about going solar:
“Walmart has an ambitious commitment to be powered entirely by renewable energy, and we’ve made significant progress toward this goal in recent years as renewable energy options, especially solar power, have become more affordable,” said Kim Saylors-Laster, vice president for energy, Walmart. “We have plans to continue our investment in solar energy, expanding the number of locations powered by the sun, and we hope to use our scale to drive down prices for all renewable technologies.”
“General Motors has been investing in solar power for years, so being named among other companies with strong solar programs, like Walmart and IKEA, is validation that our initiatives are on the right track,” said Mike Robinson, GM vice president, sustainability and global regulatory affairs. “But our focus on renewable energy doesn’t stop at the sun. By 2020, our goal is to promote the use of all forms of renewable energy by using 125 megawatts across our entire corporate footprint.”
“We are thrilled with the progress we have made towards installing solar panels atop 89 percent of our U.S. locations,” said Mike Ward, president, IKEA U.S. “We appreciate the Solar Energy Industries Association and the Vote Solar Initiative for acknowledging our commitment to sustainability as represented by our investment in solar photovoltaic technology. It is flattering, yet humbling, to be recognized for helping contribute to the development, expansion and promotion of the U.S. solar industry, but we believe it is just part of being a good business while doing good business.”
“Not only do our solar locations provide an immediate cost savings to Kohl’s, they serve as examples of our environmental commitment in action. As a national retailer with more than 1,100 stores, we consistently challenge ourselves to find new ways to reduce the operational footprint of our facilities, to be more energy efficient, use fewer resources and be a good neighbor in the communities where we do business. It’s exciting when we are able to add solar panels to a store, because it becomes part of a shopper’s Kohl’s experience. Even if they can’t immediately see the solar panels on the roof – similar to how they might not see all of the characteristics that make a store ENERGY STAR-labeled or LEED-certified, they know Kohl’s is working to be a good environmental steward and to make responsible choices about how we operate our stores,” said John Worthington, Kohl’s chief administrative officer.
“We are proud to be a retail industry leader in hosting solar power, which is a critical element of our strategy for sustainability at Macy’s, Inc.,” said Bill Lyon, Macy’s vice president for energy management. “Solar power systems offer an affordable way for Macy’s to reduce operating costs and lower energy consumption by using clean, renewable solar power.”
“We are always exploring new and innovative ways to expand our use of environmentally-friendly technology to reduce our energy consumption,” said Mark Wagner, Walgreens president of operations and community management. “Walgreens is committed to the health and wellness of the communities we serve and to the sustainability of our planet. Our use of solar power nationwide is a great example of how businesses, communities and developers of green technologies can work together to help make a difference.”
“FedEx is dedicated to connecting the world more efficiently while minimizing our impact on the environment,” said Mitch Jackson, staff vice president, environmental affairs and sustainability, FedEx Corp. “Deploying solar technologies at our facilities helps us to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our operations while providing more sustainable options for our customers.”
“Investing in solar power confirms our commitment to environmental responsibility. Dow Jones wants to be one of the companies making a difference,” said Dean Del Vecchio, CIO of Dow Jones & Company. “Solar power is a renewable reminder that clean energy is possible and that responsible businesses can make it happen.”
“We see solar playing an increasingly important role in our energy mix. We will add several megawatts to our portfolio in the next couple of years,” said Curtis Ravenel, global head of sustainability at Bloomberg. “The environmental and financial benefits are attractive on multiple levels for us as a firm and we are actively pursuing other investment opportunities in the field.”
Here’s how the Top 20 by installed capacity stack up:
Vote Solar is a non-profit grassroots organization working to fight climate change and foster economic opportunity by bringing solar energy into the mainstream.
According to the French utility EDF, the French solar PV capacity reached in March 3,000 MW, with over 2,672 MW in mainland France and 339 MW in Corsica and overseas.
According to the data: the total capacity grew by 15 percent this semester in metropolitan France. An additional 1,581 MW are already installed but are waiting to be plugged to the grids.
Not all of this massive capacity may be linked to the grids as most of them have to be connected prior to June to benefit from the local feed-in tariffs. The industry is facing a darker future.
France has seen in recent years a spectacular rise of solar photovoltaic as the capacity grew from 40 MW in 2006 to 81 MW in 2008. Things accelerated afterwards as by the end of 2010 it reached 850 MW.
2011 was an impressive year for solar PV as Enerplan – the local French solar industrial organization – notes in its report. Local capacity in march 2011 was of 1,336 MW, in June it was of 1676 MW, in September 2232 MW.
At the end of the year it had reached 2643 MW. You read that right: the French solar capacity doubled in nine months.
In 2010 I noted in a previous article here that the 5,400 MW objective originally planned for 2020 could be reached in 2013. Given the impressive increase, this well could be the case. However the future for the industry is not that bright:
In 2011, half of the 25,000 jobs that had been created in this industry had been destroyed. The investment bubble created by the high feed in tariffs has boomed and busted as there have been several cuts in FIT since 2010.
What will François Hollande, the new President elected earlier this month, will do about it ? Will the industry be given a sustainable roadmap for the next five years?
The tri-state region is, for the first time, well positioned to become a national and global player in solar energy – so says a new report from the Regional Plan Association, the nation’s oldest independent regional planning organization focused on improving the quality of life in the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut metropolitan area.
“Solar is a vital component of a larger clean energy
Resulting from an over-saturated solar renewable energy credit (SREC) market, over the past several months DC has experienced rapidly declining SREC values. To help stabilize the market and ensure continued development of solar resources, diverse stakeholders have rallied around the
Even outsiders know that the solar energy industry has experienced huge growth during the past few years. This is particularly true of 2009, where solar energy prospered in spite of a worldwide recession. In the U.S., this prosperity is largely due to the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.