Solar on Superstores: Put Solar Panels in our Cities Too

Why we should be putting solar on superstores: Rooftops of large buildings in major cities are  prime real estate for solar panels

This article will talk about how if large building owners like Walmart and Ikea were to put solar panels on their roofs, it could power 8 million American homes. The article will give a short background on solar power and then dive into this report from Environment America about how solar panels can help us move to a more sustainable future. 

By Ellie Huizenga

Solar on Superstores
Vast solar array on a warehouse
Photo by Nuno Marques on Unsplash

Solar on Superstores: Could superstore rooftops be the answer for solar power?

The other day I flew from Phoenix, Arizona to Salt Lake City, Utah. I was in the window seat and couldn’t wait to fly over the Grand Canyon. But when landing and taking off, I found myself staring at the never-ending empty rooftops across the city. And I couldn’t help but think these large rooftops are prime real estate for solar panels. 

A report from Environment America shared if big buildings (like the Walmarts and Ikeas) put solar panels on their roofs, it could power 8 million American homes. That’s almost the entire city of New York—a staggering number we can’t ignore.

With solar energy, one-quarter of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions can be avoided because it reduces the need to burn fossil fuels for electricity. This helps reduce air pollution and improves the resiliency of our electric grid. “Putting solar panels on the nation’s superstores would be good for businesses, good for electricity customers, good for the grid, and good for the environment,” says Environment America. 

Store rooftops as an environmental solution

In order to transition to 100% clean and renewable energy, America needs to expand its use of solar power—and one of the most sensible ways is to utilize the rooftop space on superstores.

According to Environment America, over 100,000 superstores in the U.S. have an estimated 7.2 billion square feet of rooftop. The solar energy potential of this is equivalent to almost 65% of all the electricity generated by solar in the U.S. in 2020. That means we could double the amount of solar energy we produce, just by taking advantage of flat rooftops. 

There are a few reasons big-box superstores are the perfect place to install solar panels: 

  1. They’re already built, so no new land needs to be used
  2. They’re high off the ground avoiding tree cover, so get uninterrupted sun
  3. They’re flat and large, so ideal spaces to make the most of panels

Plus, producing electricity close to where the electricity will be used, reduces energy loss that happens during transportation. 

On top of being better for the environment, solar energy systems can also save corporations money. For example, Environment Arizona found that “Walmart’s solar installations have already saved the company over $1 million, and the company’s installations in California were expected to provide between 20%-30% of each location’s electricity needs.” Ikea puts solar panels on covered parking spots as well—reporting that they use solar at 90% of their U.S. locations

Ready to tell corporations to use solar on superstores? Here’s how:

Every big-box superstore is an opportunity to install solar power. You can take action today by telling Walmart to go solar by signing Environment America’s petition.

Putting solar panels on the nation’s superstores is great for everyone. It’s beneficial for businesses, electricity customers, the grid, and the environment. Now, we just need the stores with big roofs to do it. 

solar array on a warehouse
Solar panels on the Werkspoorfabriek in Utrecht
Photo by Jeroen van de Water on Unsplash