Solar Means Business: Top Commercial Solar Customers in the U.S.


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Solar energy is being deployed on a massive scale by the most iconic brands and best-managed companies in the U.S. in order to help lower operating costs and increase profits. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Vote Solar Initiative (Vote Solar) have unveiled a report naming the companies using solar on their facilities in the U.S., ranked by cumulative solar energy capacity. Learn more:

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Solar Means Business: Top Commercial Solar Customers in the U.S.

  1. 1. Solar Means Business:Top Commercial SolarCustomers in the U.S. WalMart:  Marina,  CA    Photo  Credit:  SolarCity   September  12,  2012  
  2. 2. Introduction What  do  Walmart,  Costco,  IKEA,  McGraw  Hill,  Johnson  &  Johnson  and  FedEx  have  in  common?  They   know  a  smart  investment  when  they  see  one,  and  are  all  adopting  solar  energy  in  a  big  way.  From  the   largest  corporations  to  small  businesses,  U.S.  companies  are  installing  solar  energy  to  take  control  of   their  energy  costs  and  improve  their  bottom  line.  As  of  mid-­‐2012,  businesses  as  well  as  non-­‐profit   organizations  and  governments  across  the  United  States  have  deployed  more  than  2,300  megawatts   (MW)1  of  solar  electric  (photovoltaic  or  PV)  systems  on  more  than  24,000  individual  facilities—and  this   number  is  growing  rapidly;  during  the  first  half  of  2012,  over  3,600  non-­‐residential  PV  systems  came   online,  an  average  of  one  every  72  minutes.  2     The  rapidly  falling  cost  of  solar  energy  has  made  solar  an  increasingly  appealing  investment  for  American   businesses.  Between  the  second  quarter  of  2011  and  the  second  quarter  of  2012,  the  average  price  of  a   completed  commercial  PV  system  fell  by  nearly  14  percent.3  The  economics  of  PV  have  become  so   attractive  that  many  of  the  best  managed  corporations,  which  are  synonymous  with  low  cost  and   efficiency,  are  adopting  solar  energy  on  a  massive  scale  across  the  U.S.       This  report,  prepared  by  the  Solar  Energy  Industries  Association  (SEIA)  and  the  Vote  Solar  Initiative  (Vote   Solar),  highlights  those  companies  that  have  deployed  the  most  solar  energy  capacity  at  their  facilities   for  onsite  consumption.  In  total,  the  42  companies  analyzed  for  this  report  have  deployed  at  least  321   MW  of  PV  capacity  at  more  than  750  locations  in  at  least  26  states  and  Puerto  Rico.  The  20  companies   with  the  highest  installed  capacity  have  deployed  at  least  279  MW,  enough  to  supply  all  the  electricity   needs  of  46,500  American  households.  These  solar  leaders  include  some  of  America’s  most  iconic  brands   and  biggest  businesses.   In  addition  to  installed  capacity,  this  report  also  ranks  companies  by  the  number  of  operating   installations  as  well  as  the  geographic  diversity  of  their  solar  deployment.   U.S. Companies Deploy Solar Energy from Coast to Coast This map shows the locations of the on-site PV systems identified by this research. For an interactive map with updated information, visit: corporate-solar-projects.php 1  A  megawatt  of  solar  capacity  is  enough  to  supply  all  the  electricity  needs  for  75-­‐218  homes  depending  on  the  region  of  the  country.   For  more  info  see­‐technology/photovoltaic-­‐solar-­‐electric/whats-­‐megawatt   2  SEIA  and  GTM  Research,  “U.S.  Solar  Market  Insight  Q2  2012”­‐solar-­‐market-­‐insight-­‐report-­‐q2-­‐ 2012   3  Ibid.     2    
  3. 3. Solar Value Proposition Solar Means Busi Ranking America Energy  can  make  up  a  significant  portion  of  a  business’s  operating  costs.  Companies  are  installing  solar   at  record  rates  because  it  reduces  operation  expenses,  improves  their  bottom  line,  and  allows  them  to   Top 20 Corporate focus  resources  on  their  core  business  strategies.       The  price  of  solar  energy  systems  has  dropped  rapidly  over  the  past  5  years.  In  some  places,  it  is  more   Solar Users cost-­‐effective   to   deploy   solar   than   buy   electricity   from   the   local   utility.   And   no   matter   where   the   company  is  located,  solar  provides  predictably  priced  electricity  for  20  to  30  years.  This  hedge  against   utility  price  volatility  is  highly  valuable  to  businesses  that  are  focused  on  managing  long-­‐term  budgets.     Combined   with   innovative   financing   options   that   further   reduce   upfront   costs,   solar   has   a   new   value   proposition  that  makes  business  sense  for  major  companies  nationwide.   *COMPANIES Top 20 Companies by Solar Capacity 1. Walmart Stores, Inc. 65000 2. Costco Wholesale )!M 38900 CUSTOMERS ARE 3. Kohl’s Department Stores SERVED BY SOLAR 36474 EACH MONTH POWER ) 4. IKEA 21495 5. Macy’s 16163 6. McGraw Hill 14113 P 2 0 TOTA L TO 7. Johnson and Johnson 11619 ! 8. Staples, Inc. 10776 9. Campbell’s Soup 10. Walgreen Co. 11. Bed Bath and Beyond 9900 8163 &** SOLAR ENERGY 7543 12. Toys “R” Us 5676 SYSTEMS " 13. General Motors 5630 14. FedEx Corporation 4889 15. White Rose Foods 4888 16. Dow Jones & Company 4100 17. Snyder’s 3500 OF IKEA STORES HAVE SOLAR INSTALLATIONS &(% # 18. ProLogis 3499 19. Hartz Mountain Industries 3438 Total Installed Capacity 20. Crayola 3356 (kW) $ Companies  across  the  country  have  made  enormous  investments  in  solar  to  manage  their  operating   costs.  The  list  above  ranks  the  top  20  of  these  companies  by  the  iP 2 0 TOTA nstalled  capacity,  or  the  maximum   power  potential  measured  in  kilowatts  (kW,  1,000  kW  =  1  MW),  o TO f  all  of  their  L n-­‐site  solar  installations   o   3   %  
  4. 4. Top Companies by Number of Systems 1. Walmart Stores 144 2. Walgreen Co. 134 3. Kohl’s Department Stores 124 4. Costco Wholesale 62 5. Macy’s 41 6. Staples, Inc. 35 7. IKEA 30 8 (tie). Lackland Storage 26 8 (tie). REI 26 10. Whole Foods Market 17 11 (tie). General Motors 12 11 (tie). Johnson and Johnson 12 13. Prologis 10 14. Lord & Taylor 8 15. JC Penny 6 16 (tie). FedEx Corporation 5 16 (tie). Hartz Mountain Ind. 5 18 (tie). SAS Institute 4 18 (tie). Stop and Shop 4 18 (tie). Toys “R” Us 4 18 (tie). Tiffany & Co 4 18 (tie). L’Oreal USA 4 Total No. of Solar Energy 18 (tie). Bed Bath & Beyond 4 Systems Installed Some  companies  have  high  energy   demand  at  a  single  facility  and  build   one  or  two  large  systems  to  meet   that  need.  Others  have  dozens  or   hundreds  of  stores  and  facilities  that   could  benefit  from  solar.  The   rankings  above  list  the  Top  20   companies  by  the  number  of  solar   installations  at  company  locations.   Those  at  the  top  of  this  list  have   made  repeated  decisions  to  go  solar,   building  off  of  earlier  successes.   Macy’s:  Irvine,  CA.  Photo  credit:  San  Onofre     4    
  5. 5. Solar Leaders by Percent of Stores Macy’s 5% The  data  at  left  demonstrates  the   COSTCO 14% percentage  of  U.S.  company  stores  with   solar  for  a  few  notable  companies.  It  is   not  a  full  ranking,  rather  a  comparison   IKEA 79% between  some  of  the  top  solar  users   that  were  already  part  of  this  report’s   analysis.  It  should  be  noted  that  smaller   REI 20% companies  could  well  have  solar  at  all  of   their  company  locations  or  could  even   Kohl’s 11% be  net  exporters  to  the  grid,  meaning   companies  generate  more  solar  energy   onsite  than  is  consumed  by  their  facility. Top Companies by Geographic Diversity While  companies  with   facilities  in  California  and  the   Southwest  have  certainly   taken  advantage  of  the  ample   solar  resources  and  effective   IKEA - 16 states solar  policies,  corporations   REI - 10 states have  gone  beyond  those  well-­‐ known  solar  markets  with   Kohl’s Department Store - 10 states installations  all  across  the   Walmart Stores, Inc. - 7 states country.  Many  corporations   have  solar  energy  systems  in   Walgreen Co. - 6 states diverse  states  including   Whole Foods Market - 5 states Michigan,  Wisconsin  and   Staples, Inc. - 5 states Massachusetts,  which  is  a   strong  indication  that  solar   General Motors - 5 states energy  can  make  business   Costco Wholesale - 5 states sense  in  all  U.S.  climates.  This   list  ranks  the  top  companies   Macy’s - 4 states by  the  number  of  states  in   which  they  have  deployed  PV   at  their  facilities.     5    
  6. 6. Solar  workers  on  WalMart.  Photo  credit:  SolarCity   Big Plans The  companies  ranked  here  and  many   more  continue  to  expand  their   investments  in  solar  energy  at  a  rapid   pace.  Companies  such  as  Apple,  which   has  a  20  MW  system  under  construction   at  a  datacenter  in  North  Carolina,  have   announced  plans  for  major  solar   deployment.  Others  such  as  General   Motors  have  decided  to  enter  the  solar   business  themselves.     Businesses  as  well  as  other  large  energy  consumers  like  non-­‐profits,  schools  and  public  agencies  are   expected  to  add  7,000  megawatts  of  additional  PV  systems  over  the  next  five  years.  That’s  enough  to   replace  seven  retiring  coal  power  plants.       Other Notable Companies   While  this  report  focused  on  the  corporations  with  the  most  solar  deployment,  many  other  companies   big  and  small  choose  to  go  solar  every  day  to  take  control  of  their  energy  costs.  In  researching  this  report   we  identified  the  following  companies  as  having  significant  on-­‐site  solar  deployment  but  did  not  feel   confident  in  providing  rankings  due  to  both  known  and  unknown  missing  data.   Anheuser Busch Del-Monte Foods Mars Snackfoods Apple Google Merck Bloomberg LP Intel Pepsi Boeing Kaiser Permanente Sabert Corporation   Coca-Cola   IKEA:  Bloomington,  MN.  Photo  credit:  Businesswire     6    
  7. 7. Methodology The  Solar  Energy  Industries  Association  (SEIA)  and  the  Vote  Solar  Initiative  (Vote  Solar)  set  out  to  rank   the  top  corporate  users  of  solar  energy  in  the  U.S.  To  do  this,  SEIA  and  Vote  Solar  combed  public   databases  and  contacted  company  representatives  to  collect  data  on  their  use  of  PV  systems.4  While   researchers  made  every  effort  to  collect  detailed,  complete  and  accurate  data,  not  every  company   responded  to  surveys,  and  public  databases  do  not  capture  all  installations.  Furthermore,  new  systems   are  installed  every  day.  In  the  first  half  of  2012  alone,  over  3,600  individual  non-­‐residential  systems   came  online  in  the  U.S.  Ultimately,  SEIA  and  Vote  Solar  believe  this  is  an  accurate  portrayal  of  the   leading  corporate  users  of  solar  energy  in  the  U.S.,  but  reserve  the  right  to  make  adjustments  as  new   data  becomes  available.   SEIA  and  Vote  Solar  only  counted  on-­‐site  PV  systems  that  supplied  power  directly  to  company  facilities.   This  does  not  include  utility  PV  power  plants  that  sell  wholesale  electricity.  While  some  companies  buy   solar  renewable  energy  credits  (SRECs)  from  solar  power  generated  off-­‐site,  this  report  does  not   consider  such  transactions  due  to  limitations  in  data  collection  and  verification.  Likewise,  SRECs   produced  by  many  onsite  PV  systems  are  sold  to  utilities  or  other  buyers;  while  companies  that  sell  their   SRECs  do  not  retain  the  environmental  attributes  of  the  system,  such  systems  are  still  counted  for  the   purposes  of  this  report  as  the  decision  to  deploy  an  onsite  solar  system  is  an  essential  step  in  solar   energy  development.     Many  important  companies  have  made  massive  investments  in  helping  others  go  solar.  Bank  of  America,   Merrill  Lynch,  Google  and  others  have  provided  billions  of  dollars  in  financing  for  solar  energy  systems  in   the  U.S.  While  these  investments  are  big  business  and  central  to  the  development  of  the  solar  energy   industry,  they  are  not  the  focus  of  this  report.     These  rankings  only  include  PV  systems  that  were  operational  as  of  mid-­‐August  2012.     If  you  see  an  error  or  omission  or  would  simply  like  to  add  new  data,  please  email   Please  direct  all  press  questions  to  Monique  Hanis  (,  Rosalind  Jackson   (  or  Jamie  Nolan  (   4  This  report  only  considers  the  use  of  photovoltaic  systems,  which  produce  electricity.  It  does  not  represent  the  use  of  solar  heating   and  cooling  (SHC:  water  heating,  space  heating,  space  cooling  or  process  heat)  due  to  lack  of  public  databases.     7