Retail chains including Wal-Mart and Shop-Rite continue to ramp up their solar installations in order to reduce energy use and lower their carbon emissions. Solar power systems may also find new homes on the rooftops of stripmalls.
Wal-Mart launched a solar pilot program in May 2007 followed by an expanded initiative on Earth Day 2009, which should double the retailer’s use of solar energy in California, adding solar installations at 10 to 20 facilities over the next 12 months.
The total solar effort across the state is expected to generate up to 32 gigawatt-hours of energy each year, while helping to avoid more than 10,000 metric tons of carbon-dioxide emissions each year, and providing 20 to 30 percent of each facility’s electric needs, reports the Los Angeles Times.
On the east coast, Wakefern Food Corp, operator of ShopRite supermarkets, installed a solar power system at its retail store in Garwood, N.J., reports Supermarket News.
The installation of 1,024 solar panels on the store’s roof will produce approximately 303,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually to power in-store refrigeration and lighting, reports Supermarket News. The solar panel system is expected to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by 200 tons annually, according to the article.
In a guest blog for The Infrastructurist, Russell Diamond, the founder of Solution Capital Partners, an investment firm that focuses on clean technology and alternative energy solutions, touts “wasteful” stripmalls as a perfect location for solar installations.
The installation of rooftop solar offers an opportunity to derive value from an installed asset, says Diamond.
Diamond says in the article by converting the rooftops on stripmalls, whose flat roofs are great platforms for solar installations, it can reduce carbon emissions, decentralize power production, cut peak demand, and deliver a profit.
He also notes that panels can shade a heat-retaining black roof, reducing the air conditioning load and increasing net energy efficiency.
Although economic incentives for commercial-scale rooftop solar vary by state, Diamond says they have created an environment where investors are willing to pay for the installation and sell the power back to the host. While New Jersey offers investors the best opportunities, other states including Colorado, Pennsylvania, California and Vermont offer subsidies, he says.