Walmart had three small wind power installations in three different store parking lots, but one has now been removed. The 12 turbines at a Worcester, Massachusetts, Walmart Supercenter were in place for five years. Walmart says they’ll be reviewing data from those five years to see what can be learned.
Some commenters are claiming that Walmart will be giving up on wind power and focusing entirely on solar in its efforts to reach 100% renewable energy sources by 2020. This doesn’t seem to be the case, though.
Wind power is used extensively by Walmart Mexico, and Walmart in the U.S. uses wind power from a wind turbine at its distribution center in Red Bluff, California. Walmart also uses 60% of the output of Duke Energy’s wind farm in Texas.
Walmart also just announced a deal with Akuo Energy, a French company holding another large wind farm in Texas, to buy energy from that wind farm for the next 12 years.
The wind turbines which have been removed already were placed by an alternative energy company at their cost, with the understanding that they would charge Walmart for the energy produced. That company has gone out of business.
Walmart uses renewable energy for nearly one quarter of its global energy needs, but only 3% of its U.S. electricity comes from renewable sources, according to a report published in November of last year. The report claimed that Walmart is picking low-hanging fruit, installing extensive solar projects in the tropics while relying on coal for electricity throughout the Midwest where changes would have more effect on coal usage.
Consider Walmart’s stores in Puerto Rico, though. Solar panels there are extremely effective and supply a steady power source, while cutting costs in the territory, which has higher prices for its petroleum-based electricity than are commonly found on the mainland. By choosing the locations where renewable energy will have the biggest impact on costs, Walmart is making it possible to move toward the 2020 goal.
12 turbines in a Massachusetts parking lot may provide a symbolic message for critics, but it doesn’t represent a change in Walmart’s policy toward wind power.