Home Depot boasts almost 2,300 stores across North America. All those locations combine to provide plenty of square footage for rooftop solar. To that end, the retailer recently announced that it would install solar panels atop at least 50 of its stores in an effort to increase the amount of renewables the company can generate nationwide.
The company says each of the stores chosen to host a solar installation will be able to reduce the amount of electricity needed from the grid by an average of 30 to 35 percent.
This project will supplement Home Depot’s step-by-step adoption of clean energy technologies to power its stores. In previous years, the company was more amenable to fuel cells than other clean technologies: as of last year, the company had installed Bloom Energy’s fuel cells at 140 store locations. The company’s CFO, Carol Tome, told CNBC that stores using the technology were able to reduce their electricity costs by 15 to 20 percent.
Home Depot’s renewables portfolio also includes solar power purchasing agreements (PPAs) in Delaware and Massachusetts; 170 fuel cells operating at stores and distribution centers; and wind farms in Texas and Mexico.
The investment in solar power will boost the company’s clean energy footprint to over 130 megawatts (MW) as it aims to generate 135 MW from renewable power technologies by 2020.
According to the company, each of the stores that will score a solar installation will have approximately 1,000 panels on its roof. The typical Home Depot store roof has 104,000 square feet of space. As a result, amount of power generated at each store is equivalent to electrifying 2,300 averaged-sized U.S. homes for a year.
Most of the stores gaining a new solar roof are concentrated in California, Connecticut, Maryland New Jersey and New York. Current by GE will work with Home Depot at 28 east coast stores. Tesla Powerpacks will be installed at six California and New York locations so that each store can store energy and generate additional clean power when needed.
Home Depot’s solar experiment follows up on its retail line of solar products sold at many of its stores. The company partners with local contractors to install residential solar power systems, and also offers options to finance these installations as well. Now the company is showing that it can actually benefit from these products.
Granted, this jump into solar only affects 2 percent of Home Depot’s stores. Nevertheless, the company has shown in recent years it is willing to take additional steps to become a more responsible and sustainable retailer. For example, the company stopped selling pesticides linked to the sharp decline in bee populations in 2014. And as the world’s largest seller of light bulbs, the company supported the phasing out of incandescent light bulbs and even traced where sales of efficient bulbs were highest. Meanwhile, Home Depot has taken several steps to develop a more sustainable supply chain in order to decrease truck deliveries, reduce waste from pallets and slash emissions, and has done so while saving tens of millions of dollars in operational costs.
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