The commercial segment of the U.S. solar market has shown uneven growth over the last few years, and has not kept pace with the rapid increases in both residential and utility-scale installations.
However, even as this sector struggles the largest U.S. companies are continuing to install solar at a record pace. According to the latest report by Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the top 25 U.S. corporate solar users installed nearly 1,700 PV systems totaling 336 MW of PV in 2015, growing their cumulative solar installations 59% to 907 MW.
This is roughly 1/3 of the 1.1 Gigawatts of commercial solar that GTM Research expects to be installed in the United States over the course of 2015.
This year Walmart has again led the pack, installing 32 MW to bring it to 142 MW installed. And while warehouse owner Prologis remained #2 in cumulative installed capacity at 97 MW, in 2015 Target installed 22 MW and Apple 20 MW, to bring these two companies to third and fourth places in cumulative capacity rankings.
Apple may move up in the rankings in future years, due to the large solar projects it has planned. In February the company announced that it would build a 70 MW PV plant at its new global command facility in Arizona.
The company continues to invest in solar not only in the United States but overseas as well, and last month announced that it is investing in the development 170 MW of solar PV in Northwestern China with SunPower and a Chinese developer.
Meanwhile, in terms of numbers of new 2015 U.S. installations Walgreens led with 82 systems, however the smaller size of their facilities means that total capacity was only 3.9 MW.
SEIA’s report came the same day that Unilever and Adobe both pledged to source 100% of their electricity from renewable energy at the COP 21 conference in Paris.