Walmart isn't the only multinational corporation raising its sustainability profile
, the Swedish DIY furniture behemoth, announced that it will install solar panels on eight of its California warehouses this fall.
is to put nearly 20,000 solar panels on eight stores in California, the largest of which is their distribution center. Located on 60 acres in Tejon
, the 1.7 million square foot center will now host about 8,000 panels that will soak up the sun's rays and convert them into an estimated 2.8 million kilowatt hours of energy per year. The company projects that implementing its California solar program will result in annual emissions reductions equivalent to taking 914 cars off the road, or capable of powering 580 homes.
We can hope that we're seeing the sprouting of a trend in which big box retailers, malls, hotels and even parking lots
use photovoltaic panels to get an energy boost from California's most consistent resource: the sun.
Sunshine, it turns out, is a hot property in our state as 2010 winds down. Several large solar power fields were fast-tracked for review by the state Energy Commission this summer, with approval allowing projects to access stimulus funds in the nick of time, since the money disappears at year's end. The Ivanpah Valley facility, which breaks ground Oct. 27
, will be one of the largest thermal solar power plants in existence once it's completed.
Solar thermal plants
generate energy by using fields of mirrors to focus sunlight on receivers that sit atop towers placed throughout the fields. The tower receivers send that concentrated energy to vats of liquid, which heat to boiling.
Treehuggers against renewable?
The Ivanpah Valley project put environmentalists in the unusual position of opposing
renewable energy. One of the sticking points in negotiations between solar energy developers and conservationists was the need to preserve the habitat of the desert tortoise. As I touched on in a previous post
, this species of tortoise, native to the Mojave Desert, is on a dangerous path to possible extinction. In his recommendation for approval and after the ruling, however, Energy Commissioner Jeffrey Byron said "the benefits of this project far outweigh the impacts." Energy Commission members agreed, voting unanimously to move the project forward. Now wildlife biologists are in the midst of what the L.A. Times called the Mojave Desert tortoise roundup
. The Times reports that there are 36 desert tortoises residing in the area of the planned project site. The "turtle translocation" could take months, during which time the tortoises will reside in artificial burrows.
Regulators required another solar project that just gained federal approval for installation in Riverside to include provisions for the desert tortoise in its plan. Companies backing the Blythe Solar project
agreed to finance maintenance of more than 8,000 acres of habitat for the tortoise and other native species impacted by the energy facility.
It will be interesting to see what a future powered by clean energy will look like, and it's exciting to think we could be witnessing the beginnings of the "Solar Age" ...