Blue chip companies in US increase PV deployment by 28%

The third-annual Solar Means Business report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has revealed that many of the U.S.’s leading Fortune 100 companies have continued to step-up their use of solar PV as a leading clean energy source.

SEIA’s report shows that 569 MW of solar PV capacity is now deployed across 1,100 sites owned and by blue chip companies – an increase of 28% in the space of a year, and a huge 103% increase since 2012.

Walmart continues to lead the way in terms of total solar power deployed, boasting a PV portfolio of 105 MW across 254 locations nationwide. Swedish retailer IKEA, on the other hand, leads the way in terms of the percentage of facilities that are solar powered, with an impressive nine out of ten IKEA stores in the U.S. utilizing solar energy. Automobile giant General Motors is next, with 43%.

Additional household names in the Top 25 companies for solar power include Kohl’s, Costco, Apple, Macy’s, Johnson & Johnson, Target, Staples, Volkswagen, Toyota, L’Oreal and AT&T. According to SEIA, these blue chip companies are playing “an increasingly important role” in the development, expansion and – above all – promotion of solar power nationwide. The installation of PV arrays on rooftops or adjacent ground-mounted sites is also reducing operating expenses, which in turn should benefit customers and shareholders alike.

"What do Walmart, Costco and Apple have in common besides selling cell phones and computers?", mused SEIA president and CEO Rhone Resch. "These iconic brands, and many others like them, are all investing big in solar energy.

"These forward-looking companies are helping to create thousands of American jobs, boost the U.S. economy and improve our environment."

Resch added that the 1,110 commercial solar systems currently in operation currently generate enough clean electricity to mitigate the effects of 549,296 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions – a saving of 62 million gallons of gasoline.

Cheaper solar attractive to corporations

The Solar Means Business report’s examination of the rise of solar power among leading Fortune 100 companies concluded that consistent price declines of solar systems have propelled the technology to the forefront.

With costs for commercial PV installations having fallen by 14% year-on-year, and around 45% since 2012, solar is an increasingly attractive energy solution to the boards of directors in charge of these huge companies. And as system costs continue to fall, the SEIA report suggests that more and more businesses across more states will turn to solar as an effective means of lowering their overheads.

"Going solar is a smart way for these blue chip companies to increase value for their shareholders," said SEIA board chairman and CEO of Clean Power Finance Nat Kreamer. "Businesses are dealing with higher and more volatile electric rates. At the same time, price declines and financing innovations have reduced the upfront cost of solar.

"These and other factors make solar a sound business decision today, and consistent policies at the state and federal levels will make solar a top three energy source for the U.S. in the future."