The rapidly dropping price of solar power (see the graph below) is spurring many big companies to put panels on their buildings. While that doesn't cure all ills, it's certainly better than getting electricity from other sources and wasting all that roof space.

the plummeting cost of solar

Credit: Department of Energy, public domain.

“Businesses, including some of the most recognized brands in the U.S., have adopted solar at an unprecedented rate. Since the first edition of Solar Means Business was released last year, U.S. businesses, nonprofits and government organizations have blanketed their rooftops and properties with over 1,000 megawatts (MW) of new photovoltaic (PV) solar installations. As of mid-2013, cumulative commercial deployment totaled 3,380 MW at over 32,800 facilities throughout the country, an increase of more than 40 percent over last year.”

An increase of 40 percent! Not bad.

So with 89 megawatts, Walmart now has more capacity than the bottom 38 states in the U.S. — in addition to Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia — according to the NREL rankings.

Businesses using solar power

Credit: NREL

As you can see in the graph above, Walmart is now pretty far ahead of the competition when it comes to installed solar capacity, with 89 megawatts. In second place is Costco with about half, then #3 is Kohl's, #4 is Apple (we covered the company's massive use of renewable energy), and #5 is IKEA, which is starting to sell solar panels in some locations.

It remains to be seen if Walmart and other commercial players will keep increasing their solar power capacity at this rate over time. It would be nice if in a few years all these ugly big box stores became mini power plants that helped juice up the power grid with clean energy.

Sources: Bloomberg, SEIA

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