Giant retailers like Wal-Mart (WMT) are going green across the country by using their enormous flat-top roofs to their advantage (NYT):
In recent months, chains including Wal-Mart Stores, Kohl’s, Safeway and Whole Foods Market have installed solar panels on roofs of their stores to generate electricity on a large scale.
In the coming months, 85 Kohl’s stores will get solar panels; 43 already have them….Macy’s, which has solar panels atop 18 stores, plans to install them on another 40 by the end of this year. Safeway is aiming to put panels atop 23 stores…Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer, has 17 stores and distribution centres with solar panels in operation or in the testing phase. It plans to add them soon to five more stores.
While currently most retail chain have outfitted less than 10% of their stores, the end of year expiration of the solar tax credits are accelerating installs. However, assuming a renewal of the tax credits is likely, analysts predict the trends should continue.
What are the retailers hoping to achieve?
- a positive “green” association and marketing boost
- an eventual savings on their electricity bill (depending on location and weather, the solar panels generate 10 to 40 per cent of the power a store needs)
Also, it appears big boxes might be the key to a mass-market electric car:
Bernard Sosnick, an analyst with Gilford Securities who has examined Wal-Mart’s plans, said the day might come when people can pull their electric cars up to a store and recharge them with power from the roof or even from wind turbines in the parking lot.
“It’s not as over the horizon as it might seem,” he said.
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