Tech giants, major retailers and other corporate leaders are making significant investments in clean energy and installed 1,283 megawatts of new commercial solar capacity in the United States in 2019, the second largest year on record according to the latest Solar Means Business report. The annual report, released by the Solar Energy Industries Association, tracks both on-site and off-site installations and highlights the strong appeal of cost-saving solar energy for American businesses.
“The world’s most recognizable brands are walking the walk when it comes to their clean energy commitments,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of SEIA. “Businesses are choosing solar energy because it can significantly curb their energy costs and add predictability during these uncertain times. We expect that the corporate sector will make greater investment in solar as businesses make and follow through on clean energy commitments to address the climate crisis.”
Apple and Amazon remain in first and second place when it comes to the top corporate solar users, followed by Walmart, which installed the most solar in 2019 and increased its solar use by 35%. This year was also the largest year yet for onsite commercial solar installations with 845 megawatts installed.
The report tracks 8,358 megawatts of commercial solar capacity across more than 38,000 systems. Combined, the systems generate enough electricity each year to power 1.6 million homes and offset 8.9 million metric tons of CO2 annually. For perspective, each week more than 7.2 million people, or 2.2% of the U.S. population, shop at a Walmart store with a solar installation. Target, the company with the most solar capacity installed at its facilities, finished 2019 with a total of 283 megawatts of solar capacity. The company now has more than 500 solar projects in its portfolio.
Corporations continue to procure off-site solar to power their operations and meet their ambitious clean energy goals. Over the next few years, an additional 5 gigawatts of corporate off-site solar projects are slated to come online, which will more than double the total amount of off-site corporate solar.
Facebook, one of the top buyers of off-site solar is making its first appearance in the top 10 and made the biggest leap forward, jumping from 27th to 9th on the top corporate solar users list.
Companies are also doubling down on their clean energy commitments. Several corporations on this list recently announced more aggressive clean energy goals, including Google, which is ranked 5th and now plans to run its data centers and corporate campuses on 100% carbon-free power by 2030. Walmart also announced that it plans to power its facilities globally with 100 % renewable energy by 2035 and is targeting zero emissions across its global operations by 2040.
Other companies on the list, including Amazon, Microsoft, and Solvay have recently announced new initiatives and investments to lower emissions and green their operations.
“We are honored to be recognized again by SEIA for our commitment to increasing solar power in our operations,” said Pascal Chalvon Demersay, Solvay’s Chief Sustainability & Energy Officer. “Solar power plays a key role in our Solvay One Planet initiative, which aims to reduce our emissions by 26% by 2030. We’ll continue developing solar projects to help enable the energy transition, particularly in the US.”
“This acknowledgement further cements Switch’s position as a leader in sustainability, which tremendously benefits our customers, the communities where we operate and our planet,” said Switch EVP of Strategy Adam Kramer. “Switch continues to lead the challenge to expand solar by recently breaking ground on critical projects like Rob Roy’s Gigawatt Nevada, which will generate a Gigawatt of solar combined with battery storage, providing clean energy solutions far into the future.”
“As the world’s largest owner and operator of logistics real estate, Prologis is committed to minimizing our environmental impacts, and every solar panel installed helps us get closer in the transition to clean energy,” said Jared Friedman, Prologis, vice president of global energy. “Rooftop solar is a vital component of Prologis’ growing portfolio of customer-focused renewable energy solutions, and we are proud to be honored by SEIA as we work toward our goal of doubling our on-site generating capacity to 400 megawatts by 2025.”
— Solar Builder magazine