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04/29/2021

Walmart Harnessing the Wind

Retailer now supplying renewable energy to operations across 3 states
Bridget Goldschmidt
Managing Editor
Bridget Goldschmidt profile picture
Walmart Harnessing the Wind ENGIE North America
Walmart procured the most wind energy of any company in the United States in 2019.

On its way to becoming a regenerative company powered by 100% renewable energy in its own operations by 2035 and achieving zero emissions across its operations by 2040, Walmart revealed that, thanks to a collaboration with ENGIE North America, more than 500 megawatts of new renewable energy generation capacity are now operational across three separate wind projects. 

“Together, these projects are expected to supply renewable energy annually to hundreds of stores, clubs and distribution centers across three U.S. states: Texas, South Dakota and Oklahoma,” noted Mark Vanderhelm, Walmart’s VP of energy and facilities management, in a blog post. “This is enough renewable electricity to power more than 240,000 average American homes for an entire year.” 

According to the Washington, D.C.-based American Clean Power Association, these transactions meant that Walmart procured the most wind energy of any company in the United States in 2019.

“This is a powerful collaboration because it allows us to purchase off-site power from three separate wind farms in Texas, Oklahoma and South Dakota,” explained Vanderhelm. “Together, these facilities are expected to help avoid as much as 1.3 million metric tons CO2e of greenhouse gas emissions per year.”

The facilities also create jobs. According to Houston-based ENGIE North America, the three projects provided 1,000 construction jobs at their peak and are expected to yield more than $400 million in landowner lease payments, taxes, wages and commitments over the lives of the projects.

“Bringing this amount of renewable energy online represents an important leap forward on our renewable energy journey, reinforcing Walmart’s broader mission to spark collective climate action and drive environmental sustainability,” wrote Vanderhelm.

Aside from its investments in wind energy, Walmart added the most solar of any company in the United States in 2019, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Solar Energy Industries Association, which increased the retailer’s solar use by more than 35%. Further, according to the EPA Green Power Partnership Top 30 Retail Ranking, Walmart was the top retailer in terms of annual green power usage in the United States last year.

Renewable sources supplied an estimated 36% of Walmart’s electricity needs globally, and the renewable energy supplied by the company’s projects globally grew to more than 4 billion kilowatt-hours, in 2020; its actions to date have helped to bring more than 3 gigawatts of new renewable energy capacity to power grids since 2008; and at the end of last year, the company had more than 550 on- and off-site projects operating or under development in eight countries, 30 U.S. states and Puerto Rico. 

Beyond its efforts to scale renewable energy for its own operations, Walmart is encouraging suppliers to take action in theirs via Project Gigaton, the company’s initiative to divert a gigaton of greenhouse-gas emissions from the global supply chain by 2030. In September 2020, together with Boston-based Schneider Electric, Walmart rolled out Gigaton PPA to help engage suppliers in making renewable energy purchases and spurring increased renewable energy adoption. 

Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart operates more than 11,300 stores under 58 banners in 27 countries, and e-commerce websites, employing 2.2 million-plus associates worldwide. Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, while Walmart-owned Sam’s Club ranks No. 9 on the list.