Walmart and IKEA are powerful examples of the radical decentralization of power production sweeping across the US electric grid as well as the solar boom. While IKEA and Walmart make money retailing to hundreds of millions of people, both have installed hundreds of millions of dollars of solar at their stores that they have become power companies too.
IKEA has 22 large solar facilities operating and another 17 under construction at its stores around the country. Cumulatively, IKEA will generate 38 megawatts of solar power.
Compared to IKEA, Walmart is doing more, much more, generation at its stores. As of April 2012, Walmart had installed rooftop solar at 100 of its US stores. www.zdnet.com/blog/green/walmart-reaches-100-on-site-solar-installations/20913. Indeed, by the end of 2013, it will have 100 stores just in California with rooftop solar operating.
But for Walmart, solar is a commitment from the Pacific to the Atlantic. It is installing solar at 27 of its 50 Massachusetts stores by this August. articles.boston.com/2012-05-15/business/31702487_1_solar-panels-solar-power-solar-projects. The Walmart Massachusetts solar build will total 10.5 megawatts of capacity.
Though I do not have a current total installed solar capacity for Walmart, I would expect it to be around 100 megawatts and rising. This is an extraordinary number, given that the US had just 500 megawatts of solar installed, as recently as 2008.
The distributed, solar investment of Walmart and IKEA would be notable if they were unique and alone. But they are but two examples of the rush toward grid decentralization and solar generation. Increasingly, the future of America's electric grid and generation is at the premises of and on the rooftops of homes and businesses.