As solar energy continues its downward trend in cost, it is matched by an upward trend in development. Companies with huge data centers like Google, Apple and Facebook, e.g. have been leading the pack with solar energy to power their buildings. Yet, cost conscious retailers are also tacking solar panels to their roofs.
IKEA was an early adopter with solar panels on 40 of its then 42 US stores. Last November, Walmart announced they would power 400 more stores by solar energy with a goal to be 100% renewable energy powered. In July, Target announced they would follow suit and is powering its 27 North Carolina stores and a total of 180 US stores with solar energy. Target’s goal is to have 500 stores powered by solar energy by 2020. Not to be outdone, Aldi is placing solar panels on ten of its North Carolina stores plus its distribution center.
With tight margins in retail, especially in the grocery market segment, to move down the path of solar energy speaks volumes. A retailer would not do this if it was not value accretive to the bottom line. Although it is still a surprise to many who limit their news sources, solar energy is growing rapidly and is a viable energy source. It is also clean and will avoid the health and environmental risks that come with fossil fuel and nuclear energy. Plus, the solar energy jobs are increasing at a double-digit rate with over 170,000 jobs at year-end 2014.
The future of solar energy is very bright indeed. And, wind energy continues to build on its success in Midwestern US and select other states. So, a little sun, a little breeze and we will be in a much better position to combat climate change and improve our health and environment.