Walmart Phase IV
New Jersey | 1.9 MW across five stores
The overhead photo of the Walmart Supercenter in Bayonne, N.J., may not be as breath-taking as the 100-MW utility-scale projects surrounded by flowing green hills normally pictured in this category, but we think this photo (and this portfolio) represents something much larger. Our readers felt the same, which is why Walmart: Phase IV is the 2019 Solar Builder Large-Scale Project of the Year.
Let’s start with just this one building in Bayonne. Operated by C2 Energy Capital (a rapidly growing investor in renewable energy and storage assets), the clean power system offsets the store’s carbon footprint by approximately 227 metric tons annually — equivalent to the amount of carbon 270 acres of forest would sequester per year. That in itself is cool, but not “large-scale.”
The Walmart Bayonne Solar Project, however, is not a project unto itself. It is part of Phase IV of Walmart’s development collaboration with C2 Energy Capital, comprised of five projects, totaling just over 1.9 MW across rooftop space on Walmart superstores in New Jersey (a state not exactly overflowing with unused green space for majestic 100-MW solar projects). This sizeable Phase IV is also just a small piece of a larger collaboration between Walmart and C2 Energy Capital that first covered 46 distributed generation solar projects across five states (more on this later).
Power of collaboration
As one of the largest retailers in the world, Walmart has laid out an impressive plan that spans its entire organization in an effort to transition to a new sustainable business model, with an overarching goal of being powered by 50 percent of renewable sources by 2025. This is no small feat and required the right renewable energy approach. “Walmart is an educated customer,” says Ryan Marlborough, VP of projects at C2 Energy Capital. “They had very specific requirements and a fair amount of diversity from project to project. They challenged our organization.”
This is most apparent in the commitment to safety and quality assurance. As a national developer, construction manager and long-term owner/operator, C2 Energy Capital was uniquely positioned to deliver on all three objectives.
“On-site generation projects, like the Walmart Bayonne Solar Project with C2 Energy Capital, help us get closer to our goal of being supplied by 50 percent of renewable energy by 2025,” says Mark Vanderhelm, VP of energy for Walmart Inc. “This project is part of our larger pursuit to expand our use of solar and other clean energy technologies around the world.”
C2 Energy Capital’s Walmart projects in New Jersey are designed with advanced certified technology that allows the C2 Energy Capital team to monitor each solar module, increasing visibility to system faults and optimizing system performance, as well as provide module-level voltage shutdown capability for additional safety.
C2 Energy Capital went so far as to create a specific set of Walmart Store design guidelines that go above Walmart’s own design requirements.
“To ensure that quality and safety continue to be a top priority through all phases of development and construction, C2 Energy Capital requires all of our contractors to provide project-specific safety plans and weekly reports on all safety events,” says David Wolfert, VP of engineering of C2 Energy Capital. “We pay for an independent roofing inspection to ensure that once our construction team is off the roof there are no leaks and the condition of the roof is the same as it was before we mobilized. Attention to safety, quality and performance are embedded in everything we do.”
C2 Energy Capital assigns a dedicated construction manager, who is primarily responsible for monitoring compliance of all subcontractors, to ensure Walmart and C2 Energy Capital’s safety protocols and design requirements are met. That construction manager maintains a consistent program of safety. Part of that program is a weekly meeting of all contractors with safety as the first agenda item followed by a review of any safety incidences.
“C2 Energy Capital is pleased the Bayonne Walmart Supercenter has won Solar Builder’s Large-Scale Project of the Year. Walmart has been an outstanding leader globally in environmental stewardship and sustainability, in many cases carving the path for other companies to follow,” says Candice Michalowicz, co-founder and managing member of C2 Energy Capital.
After taking into account Walmart’s global brand recognition, its place in American culture, its participation in organizations like RE100, its aggressive renewable energy goals and widespread adoption of solar, the scale of this year’s Large-Scale Project of the Year feels “larger” than any 100-MW project in a remote location no average person will ever hear about.
— Solar Builder magazine