If you haven't been keeping track, Walmart is making big strides when it comes to renewable energy. The company known for its big-box stores is currently focusing on harnessing solar power to power them. "We're using the power of the sun and installing solar panels to lower our energy costs. Efforts like these are not only good for the environment, but they also keep prices low for customers," the company announced in a news release.

Just as the addition of solar panels to a home can drastically cut energy bills, the same is true for businesses — but imagine how much more electricity a retailer like Walmart requires. The company is also looking at other alternative energy power sources. "We've come a long way since our first on-site solar project in the U.S. in 2005, and our first large-scale wind power agreement in Mexico in 2006," reads the company website. Walmart now oversees more than 335 renewable energy projects around the world. In total, nearly 25 percent of the company’s electricity requirements around the globe is provided by renewable sources.

The figures are in

Worldwide, Walmart has generated more than 2.2 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of renewable electricity each year. However, the company's goal is to reach 7 billion kWh of energy per year by 2020. Already, the company is 32 percent of the way there and trying new approaches to achieve the goal. For example, consider that today’s renewable energy figures are double that of 2012 and Walmart Mexico is focusing on a massive renewable energy project that’s slated to be completed this year, which will lead to 252 megawatts of clean energy.

By the time the Mexico project is complete, more than 40 percent of Walmart stores' annual consumption in Mexico will be provided by renewable energy. For Walmart, Mexico and the U.K. are the leaders in the renewable energy push, but there are also several other branches of the company blazing new paths. Recently, Walmart Brazil bid on a green power purchase on the open market, and already 84 of the country's Walmarts are getting power from sugar mills (a major business in Brazil) and hydropower plants. This has saved Walmart Brazil 11.5 percent on energy bills.

Big steps

Recently, Walmart implemented its 250th solar energy system in the U.S., with each system providing between 15 and 30 percent of a store’s total electricity needs. There are also more fuel-cell stores (42) and the company is inching closer to reaching 1,000 global projects. In 2013, Walmart also marked the first year of 1-megawatt wind turbine usage at its Red Bluff Distribution Center of California. In fact, the company has made such big strides in renewables that it has garnered presidential attention.

President Barack Obama spoke at a Mountain View Walmart in California in early May to push the importance of energy efficiency. According to Walmart USA president and CEO Bill Simon, it was the first time a sitting president has ever visited a Walmart store, reported MSNBC. Spokeswoman for Walmart Brooke Buchanan expressed the company’s excitement over the presidential visit — one that gave the company an opportunity to show the world how big business can embrace green initiatives.

Related on MNN:

How Walmart is reaching for the sun
Walmart is making big strides when it comes to renewable energy.