Wal-Mart telegraphs its clean-tech needs

Retail giant Wal-Mart publishes a "shopping list" of green-tech products for its sustainability strategy.

For many new green-tech ventures, Wal-Mart is the ideal customer, sitting on top of the economic food chain of environmentally friendly products.

On Tuesday Wal-Mart and the Cleantech Group launched a Web-based tool that provides a sort of shopping list for Wal-Mart's sustainability strategy. The Cleantech Group is hosting its Cleantech Venture Forum in San Francisco, which starts on Tuesday.

Which "innovative ideas" Wal-Mart is seeking is instructive because it points to large corporate demand for clean-tech products.

The list:

• Alternative battery technology for forklifts.
• Wind harvesting.
• Closed-loop water processing.
• Sustainable building materials.
• Organic waste.
• Oil-based waste.
• Household hazardous waste.

Noticeably absent from the list are solar energy products and biofuels, two areas that have received most venture capital investment over the past two years.

Wal-Mart is investing in solar power at 22 stores in California and Hawaii. It is also developing energy-efficient stores, which Wal-Mart says use 25 percent less energy than its typical retail outlets.

The tool, called Cleantech Accelerator Project, will let entrepreneurs make submissions to Wal-Mart, which will be fielded by the Cleantech Group.

The goal is to identify between two and four solutions that can be used by Wal-Mart within the next two years.


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