In its Global Sustainability Milestone Meeting on Monday, Walmart announced new commitments the retailer says will dramatically increase energy efficiency and renewables, and hasten its path toward being 100% supplied by renewable energy.
Walmart president and CEO Mike Duke outlined specific goals the company said it intends to achieve by Dec. 31, 2020:
"More than ever, we know that our goal to be supplied 100% by renewable energy is the right goal and that marrying up renewables with energy efficiency is especially powerful," said Duke. "The math adds up pretty quickly – when we use less energy that's less energy we have to buy, and that means less waste and more savings. These new commitments will make us a stronger business, and they're great for our communities and the environment."
Walmart's six-fold increase in renewable energy projects is expected to be equal to eliminating the need for roughly two U.S. fossil fuel power plants. Based on external estimates of projected energy costs and other factors, the two new commitments are anticipated to generate more than $1 billion annually in energy savings once fully implemented.
The company said it will also avoid 9 million metric tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the equivalent of taking 1.5 million cars off the road, in effect halting the growth of GHG emissions from the company's largest GHG source -- energy used to power buildings -- by 2020.
For the first time, the company is projecting this GHG decrease even with significant anticipated growth in stores and sales.
"When I look at the future, energy costs may grow as much as twice as fast as our anticipated store and club growth," Duke said. "Finding cleaner and more affordable energy is important to our every day low cost business model and that makes it important to our customers' pocketbooks. Our leadership in this area is something our customers can feel good about because the result is a cleaner environment. And savings we can pass on to them."
In 2012, Walmart added nearly 100 renewable energy projects, bringing the total number of projects in operation worldwide to nearly 300 today. According to the Solar Energy Industry Association, it has more solar power capacity and number of systems than any other company in America.
In the U.S. alone, Walmart said it hopes to install solar power on at least 1,000 rooftops and facilities by 2020, a significant increase from just over 200 solar projects in operation or under development currently. In addition to onsite solar, the company will continue to develop projects in wind, fuel cells and other technologies. It will also procure offsite renewable energy from utility-scale projects, such as large wind projects, micro-hydro projects and geothermal.
In order to meet its energy efficiency goal between now and 2020, Walmart projects to increase LED usage in sales floor lighting, parking lots and other applications. Walmart will also focus on market-relevant scalable technologies, including high efficiency HVAC and refrigeration systems and sophisticated energy/building control systems.