Retail stores such as Walmart, Target, and Costco have massive untapped potential for fulfilling the U.S.’s solar power needs, according to experts.
Big-box retail stores have the potential to produce half of their annual electricity needs from rooftop and parking lot solar installations, according to a report from Environment America and Frontier Group.
The report showed that if the full rooftop solar potential of these stores were used, they could generate enough electricity to power almost 8 million average homes.
It also would cut the same amount of planet-warming emissions as 11.3 million gas-powered cars.
According to the report, the average Walmart store has 180,000 square feet of rooftop, which is around the size of three football fields.
This amount of space could support a solar project that could power the amount of energy equivalent to 200 homes.
However, the authors of the report told CNN only a fraction of U.S. big-box stores have solar on their rooftops or solar canopies in their parking lots.
Some of the companies cite labor costs, regulations, and issues with the roofs themselves as complications in the adoption of these types of projects.
But a Target store in Vista, Calif., has taken a step forward to become the company’s most sustainable store by installing solar panels on their carports.
The panels will produce enough energy to power the entire store, including refrigeration, heating, and cooling, according to the store.
Additionally, the store is expected to produce 10 percent more energy than it needs, which it will then return to the local power grid, store executives said.
Target and Walmart have plans to eventually source 100 percent of their energy from renewable sources, with Target’s planned by 2030 and Walmart by 2035.
Experts say that Walmart has the largest solar potential as the nation’s largest retailer.
So far, Walmart has installed nearly 194 megawatts of solar on its U.S. stores as of the end of 2021, according to Environment America.
Target has 542 locations with rooftop solar, which is about a quarter of its stores.
Home Depot, Kroger, and Costco are also on the list of the top five big-box stores with big solar potential.
Craig D’Arcy, Home Depot’s director of energy management, told CNN the store’s aging rooftops are the biggest “impediment” to more solar installations.
Renewable energy experts are frustrated with the lack of incentives for solar projects, and feel the U.S. is far behind where it should be.
However, with such massive potential, and mounting global pressure based on climate reports, experts are hopeful the right political changes will be made to begin more of these types of projects sooner rather than later.