Retailers adopting renewable energy

Wal-Mart is among a growing number of big-box brands pushing to power stores with solar and wind energy.

Big-box retailers are increasingly adding solar panels and wind turbines to sprawling stores to offset rising electricity costs and groom a "green" image.

Last week, Wal-Mart Stores announced it will add wind power to 360 Texas outlets. The company aims to power all stores with renewables eventually. So far, the retailer counting the largest amount of photovoltaics is Wisconsin-based Kohl's. Whole Foods is likely the first big name to add solar panels, starting in 2002 in Berkeley, Calif.

In the latest sign of government support for such efforts, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick called last week for all new malls and massive retailers to install solar panels. That state's rebates of up to 40 percent for photovoltaic installations are among the most attractive in the country for retailers eyeing regional and federal discounts for installing cleaner forms of energy.

This chart tracks some of the most noteworthy developments.

CompanyBegunCapacityCompanies involvedWhereEstimated CO2 savedEstimated equivalent resources saved
Whole Foods20022.2 million KW hours/20 yearsBP Solar, Princeton Energy Systems, PowerLight, Nextek Power Systems24 percent of energy in Brentwood, lighting systems in Berkeley, Calif., 20 percent of energy in Edgewater, N.J. stores140,000 lbs/year, 1,650 tons440 cars
Wal-Mart2005Wind: 226 million KWH/year
Solar pilot: 20 million KW hours/year for 22 sites
Wind: Duke Energy
Solar: BP Solar, SunEdison, PowerLight
Wind: 15 percent energy for 350+ Texas stores
Solar: 30 percent energy for 22 stores in Hawaii and Calif.
Wind: 139,000 metric tons/year
Solar pilot: up to 10,000 metric tons/year
Wind: 25,000 cars/year; 18,000 homes/year
Safeway2005Solar: 10,000 MW hours/year
Wind: 87 million KW hours/year
UnknownSolar: 23 stores in Calif.
Wind: all energy for 300 fuel stations; corporate offices; stores in San Francisco and Boulder, Colo.
55,000 metric tons/yearSolar: 1,045 cars/year; 4,000 acres trees
Wind: 45,000 acres trees
BJ's Wholesale Club2005Solar: 480 KWBillerica, Evergreen Solar, Solarex14 clubs in 6 statesUnknownUnknown
Target2007Solar: 9 million KW hours/yearUnknown20 percent of energy for 18 stores in Calif.4,586 tons to datePlanting 292 acres of trees; not driving 11.5 million miles to date
Kohl's2007Solar: 35 million KW hours/year in California alone (total unavailable)SunEdison30 to 40 percent of energy for 50+ stores in N.J., Conn. Md.; 3 in Wis., 25 in Calif.; 4 in Ore.28 million lbs./1st year
East Coast: 370 million lbs./20 years
California: 2,500 cars/1 year
REI2008Solar: 1.1 million KW hours/yearEI Solutions, Blue Oak Energy, Christenson Electric, Offset Electric35 percent of energy for 7 stores in Calif.; 3 in Ore.; Tex., Colo.880 metric tonsPowering 117 homes/year
North Face2008Solar: 1 MWRayTracker, Suntech, EI Solutions, Recurrent EnergyVisalia, Calif., distribution center1,300 metric tons/year250 cars; saving 11 forest acres/year
JC Penney2008Solar: 4 MWSunPower, Broadstar Wind SystemsSolar: 25 percent of energy for 5 stores in Calif.; 6 in N.J.
Wind power for Reno, Nev. distribution center
146,000 tons/30 years800 cars/30 years
Featured Video