Shortly after Walmart announced the installation of solar panels on its 100th store in California, a 265-foot-high wind turbine was erected in Red Bluff, bringing the retail giant one step closer to obtaining 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources.
“It looks like our renewable energy strategy is going to take a lot of tools,” Greg Pool, a director of energy for Walmart, told Forbes. “We are pursuing wind energy and renewable energy at a lot of different levels.”
Supplied by General Electric, the 1-megawatt turbine is the company's first installation of its kind, whereas other stores in California and Massachusetts have smaller turbines, generating under 3 kilowatts of electricity. GE's full sized turbine at Red Bluff is expected to supply 15 to 20 percent of the store's energy and the energy produced from the turbine will be purchased under a 15-year agreement with Foundation Windpower in Silicon Valley.
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Walmart is examining other opportunities at locations where turbines would make sense. For many areas, the 25-story machine with blades stretching 250 feet would generate more electricity than a store typically needs—not to mention the headache involved in obtaining permits to install the massive structures. For that reason, it has been suggested by Pool that the wind industry could use more medium sized turbines (400 to 800 kilowatts).
With 180 renewable energy projects in operation, Walmart continues to aggressively pursue renewables. In West Texas, a 90-megawatt wind farm provides 15 percent of power for more than 300 stores and Sam's Clubs, while 17 percent of power in 348 stores in Mexico comes from wind power. In addition to over 140 solar installations in six states, 27 more stores are set to have solar panel installations by 2014.