Solar Means Business

The top corporate solar users in the United States have now installed more than 1 gigawatt (GW) of solar capacity, enough to power 193,000 homes. These Fortune 500 companies have installed solar at nearly 2,000 individual installations nationwide. The top 10 corporate users, listed below, demonstrate that America's top brands are choosing to go solar at an impressive rate.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Target has grabbed the top spot among American businesses that are going solar. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) revealed Target's ascension to the top of the list in its 2016 Solar Means Business report, released on 10/19/2016, which found that more American businesses are installing solar than ever before.

Adding more solar this year than any other U.S. retailer, Target now has 147.5 megawatts (MW) of installed solar capacity. This is the first time Target has ranked No.1 in the report's five-year history.

"We feel honored to be named the top corporate solar installer in the U.S. by the Solar Energy Industries Association," says John Leisen, vice president of property management at Target. "At Target, sustainability is a principle that drives the decisions we make across the company - from the products we make to the way we run our business. We're incredibly proud of the progress we've made in improving building efficiencies and reducing environmental impact. Our commitment to installing solar panels on 500 stores and distribution centers by 2020 is evidence of that progress."

Other companies recognized in the report's Top 10 for their amount of solar capacity and number of solar installations include heretofore perennial champion Walmart (145 MW), Prologis (107.8 MW), Apple (93.9 MW), Costco (50.7 MW), Kohl's (50.2 MW), IKEA (44 MW), Macy's (38.9 MW), General Growth Properties, Inc. (30.2 MW) and Hartz Mountain Industries (22.7 MW).

"These blue-chip companies are proof that sustainability and profitability is not an either-or proposition," said SEIA's interim president Tom Kimbis. "Investing in solar is a common-sense decision that pays dividends for both the environment and companies' bottom lines and these leaders deserve a big round of applause. They're not only helping to create thousands of American jobs in solar, the nearly 2,000 corporate systems highlighted in this report are generating enough clean electricity to offset more than 1.1 million metric tons of harmful carbon emissions a year."

Covering corporate solar installs now in 38 states plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, the 2016 Solar Means Business report tracks nearly 1,100 MW of solar installations at America's top companies. To put that in context, that's enough electricity to power the equivalent of 193,000 homes every year. Also noteworthy, in just the first three quarters of 2016, the report found 142 MW of corporate solar was added in the U.S., more than was installed in all of 2015 (129 MW).

"Solar plays a vital role within our renewable energy portfolio," said Mark Vanderhelm, vice president of energy for Walmart. "This is evident by our 2020 commitment of doubling solar energy projects at our Walmart stores, Sam's Clubs and distribution centers across the nation. Our focus is on finding those solar projects that are right for the business. Being recognized by the SEIA for our efforts is confirmation that we are moving in the right direction with regards to renewable energy, specifically solar."

"As the world's largest owner and operator of logistics real estate, we're proud to contribute to a low-carbon future and use our properties as a platform to generate large volumes of clean electricity," said Matt Singleton, vice president, Global Energy and Development, Prologis. "We are on pace to meet our goal of 200 megawatts of solar in our global portfolio by 2020, and we appreciate being acknowledged by SEIA for these efforts."

"We appreciate SEIA recognizing GGP's commitment to sustainability, which is imbedded in everything we do," said Shobi Khan, chief operating officer of GGP. "Solar energy is one of our areas of focus, and we've found that solar installations have the capability to deliver a significant amount of clean electricity to our shopping centers. Our investment in solar projects delivers benefits to the environment and strong returns to our shareholders."

"We're honored to be named by SEIA as a top company for another year in a row," said Lawrence Garb, executive vice president and managing director of Hartz Mountain Industries, Inc. "Hartz continues to find the economics of the New Jersey solar market very accretive and has continued to increase its pipeline of new projects."

The Dawn of Architectural Solar

Since the beginning of the modern architectural era, humankind has dreamed of self-sustaining buildings that generate their own power. Futurists of the early 20th century looked ahead to the days when the sun would power our homes and commercial buildings and we would be transported to and from our workplaces in flying cars. Unlike the overly ambitious estimates concerning personal air transportation, today the concept of a solar-powered building is neither remote nor unachievable.

In fact, over the past six years in America, solar power has exploded into the energy sector with the kind of industrial vigor not seen since the 1950s. In 2010 America had less than 1 gigawatt of deployed solar generation. Today that number has ballooned to over 30 gigawatts and continues to increase at an astonishing rate of growth.

This enormous upswing in solar generation is due in large measure to a precipitous decrease in the cost of solar generating materials. In 2006 a solar cell cost between $3.75 and $4.25 per watt. Today that same solar cell is 20 percent more efficient and costs about $0.35 per watt. Significant increases in demand have spurred the growth of production capacity and economies of scale have propelled the solar energy markets at unprecedented rates. A dramatic increase in the cost of electricity in many parts of the country in combination with a generous investment tax credit provided by the federal government have provided further motivation for investment in solar generation.

In addition to these market propellants, a vast network of solar technicians and solar suppliers also has sprung up in the new American energy market. Thousands of installers and electrical contractors are fully invested with solar skills and technology and every major electrical supply house in the nation provides a comprehensive line of electrical management systems to support solar energy integration. Solar energy is fully embedded in the National Electrical Code and utility-grid connection of solar generators is widely permitted.

In short, solar technology is now settled science and has become an accepted part of our mix of energy resources in America. There is still nearly unlimited room for growth but it is safe to say that solar energy is here to stay.

The World's Largest Floating Solar Field

China is now the home to the The World's Largest Floating Solar Field. According to, the power plant is now operational in Eastern China's Huainan city in the Anhui province. The report states that the power plant that has the capacity of 40MW has been set up on a reservoir near a coal mine. This is more than timely as air pollution in China is reported to be causing an estimated of 1.1 million deaths every year and one of the major reasons for this are the emissions from power plants, factories and automobiles. According to the report, China plans to close down polluting factories and thermal power plants which use coal as fuel. Earlier in March, China had cancelled the plans to construct 103 coal-fired thermal power plants of a combined capacity to generate up to 120GW. Sungrow, one of the leading suppliers of the photovoltaic inverter systems across the globe is known to have set up the said floating power plant that has already started providing 40MW of power to the city of Huainan. The solar panels have been assembled on a floating container, which is used as a base as well as a ground for the engineers to walk on. Floating power plants are better options as they could be set up on water bodies. They can be set up near cities where power consumption was more than the available quantity. They also help in reducing transmission losses.