ATLANTA – Big box retail stores can help Georgia increase its clean energy production, according to a new report from Environment Georgia Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group. Solar on Superstores: Big Roofs, Big Potential for Renewable Energy calculates that the 3,691 big box buildings in the state can offset 2,421,600 metric tons of global warming pollution by just putting solar panels on their roofs. That’s the equivalent of taking 526,649 cars off the road. The energy produced by these solar roofs is also enough to power 309,300 average homes and could meet 2.5% of the state’s total electricity demand.
“We need to quickly transition from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy and every person and business has the ability to contribute – including some of our state’s biggest retailers,” said Jessica Wahl, clean energy associate with Environment Georgia. “Leveraging the unused roofs and parking lots of our big box stores for solar can make a significant difference.”
The report also finds that installing solar on big box stores can provide numerous other benefits in Georgia beyond just the environment. These include a more resilient energy grid, cost savings for electricity consumers and cleaner air quality. For high-profile brands such as Walmart, Target and The Home Depot, installing solar panels offers a difference-making opportunity in local communities. For that reason, Environment Georgia Research & Policy Center, along with its national partner Environment America Research & Policy Center, launched a campaign in 2021 calling on Walmart to install solar panels on all of its viable roofs and parking lots by 2035.
“Big companies like Walmart have the chance to shine in the much-needed renewable energy transition,” said Wade Wilson, who runs the Solar on Superstores campaign for Environment America Research & Policy Center. “There are 205 Walmart locations in Georgia. Each store has a big, flat, unobstructed roof, which is ideal for generating solar energy. We know this would be a win for the environment and for business, and that’s why we're calling on Walmart to go big on solar.”
Along with providing national and state data, the report recommends a number of public policies for states to pursue. This includes strong net metering policies which have been proven incredibly successful and popular by a pilot monthly netting program conducted by Georgia Power. Net metering would ensure that businesses that generate solar electricity are adequately compensated for the benefits they deliver.
“Combining public policy and private initiatives can make solar on superstores a reality,” said Wahl. “It’s our organization’s mission to protect Georgia’s environment for present and future generations. Covering our state’s big box stores with solar panels will help us do just that.”