Wal-Mart Deploys Solar, Wind and Sustainable Design

July 31, 2005 by Jeff Shepard

Global retail giant Wal-Mart has unveiled a new experimental design store outside of Dallas in McKinney, TX, that combines a host of renewable energy technologies, including numerous solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays and small wind turbines. For the next three years, Wal-Mart has arranged through the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to carefully analyze every aspect of the experiment in sustainable, "big-box" store design.

The first commercial installation of Bergey Windpower Co.'s (Norman, OK) newest 50 kW model wind turbine, the XL 50, rises 146 ft in the air and is deployed in the store's parking lot. The unit will produce a maximum output of 50 kW at wind speeds of around 27 mph, but will still produce power at wind speeds as low 5 mph. A second, smaller Bergey 1 kW stand-alone turbine is installed to power a Wal-Mart sign. The turbine is the result of a collaboration between the company and the US Department of Energy's Advanced Small Wind Turbine Program.

The McKinney store incorporates 59 kW total of both crystalline and thin-film panels in numerous applications from RWE SCHOTT Solar Inc. (RSS, Rocklin, CA), a manufacturer of solar-electric modules and systems. Sections of the store, such as the garden center, the curtain wall, and the entry vestibules, are covered by panels for a total of five different grid-connected solar arrays. The store's garden center offers 11 kW of polycrystalline solar PV laminates integrated into the facility's canopy. The store's south-facing facade offers 34 kW of polycrystalline PV mounted vertically at the top of the building creating a signature "blue stripe" that runs the length of the store. There are also a few smaller, stand-alone solar PV systems powering signs on the property.

Solar Integrated Technologies also provides some solar for the roof-top section above the tire and lube center.

"We see it as a next step in evaluating the impact we leave on the environment as we look toward smart growth and sustainability in the building of our new stores," said Wal-Mart Stores (USA) Executive Vice President and CEO Mike Duke. "This store will contain many of the best resource conservation and sustainable design technologies currently available to minimize the use of energy and natural resources."