Will solar have its day in the sun at Target?
Target is testing out a new solar panel setup at one California location to see if it can successfully use the technology to power the entire store, and move toward becoming a fully renewable-energy powered chain by 2030.
In the parking lot of the store in Vista, California, about 40 minutes north of San Diego, Target put up carports with solar panels affixed to the canopies, according to CNBC. The solar panels can purportedly generate enough energy to exceed the store’s energy needs by 10 percent and return the extra electricity to the power grid.
The Vista store location already has solar panels on the roof, which power a portion of the store. Target is taking other steps to make the location more energy efficient and environmentally friendly, as well, by implementing LED lights and low-emission refrigeration units. Target currently has solar panels on 25 percent of its 1,900 stores.
Among other retailers beginning to make use of solar are the Raymour & Flanigan furniture chain, which recently announced that it would install solar panels on-site to generate 90 percent of the power in three of its locations in New Jersey, according to trade publication PV Magazine.
Solar power adoption in big box retail has not, however, moved as quickly as advocates have hoped.
While both Home Depot and Kroger are using solar energy, solar panels are in place at only a small fraction of each retailer’s stores, according to CNN. Clean energy advocates are pushing for big commitments from large retailers like Walmart — which has some solar and non-solar green energy initiatives in play — to turn the tide towards solar.
Johanna Neumann, senior director for Environment America’s campaign for 100% Renewable, told CNN she suspected companies on the scale of Walmart, Target and Costco were waiting for a better business case. (The interview was conducted before Target’s announcement.)
A representative from Home Depot pointed to aging store rooftops as an impediment to installing solar panels. Kroger cited multiple factors preventing broad solar panel implementation, including the viability of rooftop installations.
Story was updated 4/15/22 to reflect Target’s ambitions to become fully powered by renewable energy — including both solar and wind power — by 2030, rather than “fully solar-powered” as initially reported.
- Target looks to massive solar panels in a California parking lot as a green model to power its stores – CNBC
- Northeast US furniture giant greening its operations with onsite solar PV – PV Magazine
- Big-box stores could help slash emissions and save millions by putting solar panels on roofs. Why aren’t more of them doing it? – CNN
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see solar as being a sustainable way to power grocery stores the size of Target? How far do you see solar power going, and what is the best way for retailers to deploy solar panels to maximize efficiency?