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Wal-Mart gets kitted out with solar

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Wal-Mart is often seen to the environmental lobby as Pete Doherty is to the anti-drugs movement or Jeremy Clarkson is to dress sense. But the mega-retailer is making a few steps in the general direction of renewable energy.

Just this week in fact it announced the completion of a project with solar company SunPower, which has seen a 390-kilowatt solar power system strapped to a store in Chino.

And there’s more: seven more in fact.

The store is the first of seven Wal-Mart facilities in California to receive high-efficiency SunPower solar power systems, totaling 4.6 megawatts, and is part of a major purchase of solar power from SunPower and other solar power providers for approximately 22 Wal-Mart stores, Sam’s Clubs and distribution centers in Hawaii and California. The stores included in the pilot project are expected to achieve savings over their current utility rates as soon as the first day of operation.

Each solar power generating system installed may vary, but on average it can provide up to 30 percent of the power for the store on which it is installed. “By Wal-Mart’s estimates, installing the solar power systems will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 8,000-10,000 metric tons per year,” said David Ozment, director of energy for Wal-Mart. The solar power pilot project is a major step toward Wal-Mart’s goal of being supplied 100 percent by renewable energy.

On the roof of Wal-Mart’s Chino store, SunPower installed the proprietary SunPower(R) T-10 solar roof tile, which tilts at a 10-degree angle to increase energy capture. SunPower solar panels, which are 50 percent more efficient than conventional solar panels, are used to maximize power generation and financial savings, especially on rooftops with constrained space.

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