Home Depot will work with GE’s $1bn cleantech start-up subsidiary Current to install solar panels on 20 stores in New Jersey and eight stores across Connecticut, Maryland and Washington. A further 22 stores in California and New York will also be fitted to benefit from solar, of which six will use Tesla Powerpacks to store energy for later use.

The project is expected to reduce electricity grid demand by 30 to 35% at the selected stores, which is the equivalent of powering 2,300 US homes for a year.

“Our alternative energy projects are important elements of our sustainability and operations efforts as they reduce carbon emissions while also lowering our energy costs,” Home Depot’s vice president of operations David Hawkins said.

The average Home Depot store roof is approximately 104,000 sq ft and will be fitted with around 1,000 solar panels. Although Home Depot owns 2,282 retail stores across the US, the 50 installations – to be fitted throughout 2017 – bring the company’s “alternative energy footprint” to more than 130MW.

Home Depot has a target in place to source 135MW of renewable energy by 2020, and the company’s current renewables portfolio includes solar Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) in Delaware and Massachusetts and wind farms located in central Mexico and Texas.

The company is also utilising fuel cells at more than 170 stores and distribution centres. Home Depot is even using fuel cell technology to power forklifts at a direct fulfilment centre in Troy Township, Ohio.

Home Depot has turned to onsite solar to help with the 2020 MW goal, but a target is also in place to reduce in-store energy consumption by 20% in the same timeframe. The company already succeeded in reducing store energy use by 20% by 2015, with current reductions sitting at 31.5% overall.

Solar soars at numerous stores

Home Depot isn’t the only US retailer to increase its renewables ambitions. Walmart has penned a deal to combine energy storage systems with on-site renewables at Southern California stores.

Elsewhere, Amazon pledged to deploy large-scale solar systems across 50 fulfillment and sortation centres globally by 2020, with 15 centres in California, New Jersey, Maryland, Nevada and Delaware scheduled for deployment this year.

Solar is becoming an attractive option in the US, despite President Trump’s support for the fossil fuel industry. Although the solar industry is hotly debating the role of tariffs, cities are beginning to implement policies that would ensure demand remains strong.

For example, South Miami is the first city outside of California that is requiring all new domestic buildings to install rooftop solar arrays.

Matt Mace

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