30 Walmart stores to use thin solar panels

Sept. 20, 2010 at 3:24 PM

BENTONVILLE, Ark., Sept. 20 (UPI) -- As many as 30 Walmart stores in California and Arizona will be outfitted with solar panels, many using a new thin film technology, the retailer said Monday.

The solar panels are expected to produce 20 percent to 30 percent of each location's electrical power, producing 22.5 million kilowatt hours of power, "enough to power more than 1,750 homes annually," the company said in a statement.

The project is also expected to "avoid producing more than 11,650 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually," which is the amount produced by 3,000 vehicles, Walmart said.

Alternative energy firm SolarCity will design, install and own the solar panels, some of which will use "copper indium gallium selenide and cadmium telluride thin film," rather than the more familiar crystalline panels.

Walmart vice president of energy Kim Laster said, "By leveraging our global scale to become more efficient, we are able to lower our expenses and help develop markets for new technology."

Environmental Defense Fund vice president for corporate partnerships Gwen Ruta said large projects, such as Walmart's, "could provide the scale and credibility needed to bring next generation solar technology more fully into the marketplace."

"It's the kind of innovation we need to reduce dependence on foreign oil and cut carbon pollution," she said.

The Environmental Defense Fund helped set up the request for proposals for the project.

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