Walmart is eyeing greater energy efficiency and less reliance on fossil fuels as key drivers of its low cost, low price business model.
The company on Monday announced several new targets that are designed to put it further along the path to becoming supplied 100% by renewable energy and save an estimated $1 billion annually in energy costs. The company said it would drive the production or procurement of seven billion kWh of renewable energy globally every year, a 600 percent increase over 2010 levels while also reducing the kWh per square foot of energy intensity required to power Walmart’s buildings globally by 20% compared to 2010 levels.
"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," Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., president and CEO Mike Duke said during a sustainability milestone meeting held at the company’s headquarters. "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 said its 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. If achieved, Walmart will be able to avoid nine 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."
Already, the renewable energy Walmart buys either meets or beats non-renewable power prices and last year the company added nearly 100 renewable energy projects, bringing the total number of projects in operation worldwide to nearly 300.
In the U.S. alone, Walmart 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.