Walmart announced late last week that the company will be installing solar arrays atop 60 more stores in California—meaning that 75 percent of California stores will be powered by renewable energy by 2013.
According to Walmart, the expansion will produce 22.5 kilowatt hours of clean energy per year (enough to power 1,750 homes), avoid producing 11,650 metric tons of carbon dioxide (equivalent to removing 3,000 cars from the road), and supply 20-30 percent of the total energy needed for each location.
Along with the increase of renewable energy, the addition of arrays to 60 new stores means creating new jobs in the wake of President Obama’s speech earlier this month, announcing his Jobs Act and calling attention to the need to create more employment opportunities to help America’s currently stifled jobs situation–something the solar industry has been spared thus far.
“According to our vendor, Solar City, this move will create 500 additional jobs,” said Brooke Buchanan, sustainability communications director for Walmart. “It’s actually a pretty good side effect. By adding solar to these stores, we are obviously increasing the number of people needed.”
Solar City, the California-based solar energy giant, will produce, own, and maintain the solar panels for Walmart.
More jobs are sure to come as Walmart looks to expand its renewable energy vision. Jobs will be needed not just in the states in which the solar panels go up, like California and Arizona, but also in the states that house the production of the arrays, like Ohio.
“One of our goals is to be supplied by 100 percent renewable energy,” said Buchanan. “And so with that, we are looking for opportunities at our stores—solar obviously makes sense in California, and we also have pilot programs put in place Arizona, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and also internationally, including Mexico.”
As for the future of Walmart’s quest to become 100 percent renewable, Buchanan expresses optimism.
“As we continue down the road of eventually becoming and hitting our goal of using 100 percent renewable energy,” she said, “we are always looking for opportunities.”
Image courtesy of Walmart.