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Power Hardware

Walmart Goes Solar In California 292

Posted by samzenpus
from the price-drop-on-the-sun dept.
tekgoblin writes "Walmart today has announced that it plans to install solar panels on more than 75 percent of its stores in the state. From the article: 'When completed, Walmart’s solar commitment in California is expected to generate up to 70 million kilowatt hours of clean, renewable energy per year, which is equal to powering more than 5,400 homes. It will also avoid producing more than 21,700 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, which is equal to 4,100 cars off the road and provide 20 to 30 percent of each facility’s total electric needs.'"
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Walmart Goes Solar In California

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  • percentages (Score:5, Funny)

    by Bobfrankly1 (1043848) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @06:40PM (#37474324)

    and provide 20 to 30 percent of each facility’s total electric needs.

    The remainder of the store, as usual is powered by crushing up the hopes and dreams of it's employees and competitors.

  • by istartedi (132515) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @06:42PM (#37474350) Journal

    Say what you will about Walmart; but they deal hard. I wonder how much they are paying per watt for this installation.

    • by lkcl (517947)

      it doesn't matter: the amount of energy that goes into the production of those panels is a significant fraction of the energy they generate over their lifetime. whoops... http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090201062719AATwL62 [yahoo.com]

      • by j-beda (85386)

        it doesn't matter: the amount of energy that goes into the production of those panels is a significant fraction of the energy they generate over their lifetime. whoops... http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090201062719AATwL62 [yahoo.com]

        Maybe I missed something - the article you referenced seems to say that the energy generate equals the energy used in about 4 years, for panels with a lifetime of 20+ years. Seems like a net gain of a factor of 4 or 5, which isn't that bad in my opinion. I guess 20% is perhaps a "significant fraction" in some situations, but you seem to be implying that "going solar" is illogical from an energy-of-production point of view, when it certainly is not.

      • by timeOday (582209)
        Check out the wikipedia page on EROI [wikipedia.org] - Ratio of Energy Returned on Energy Invested. Solar isn't too high on the list, although it beats shale oil. Actually the scary thing here is how fast oil is going downhill as the good stuff is used up and we start scraping the bottom of the barrel, so to speak. Note Oil Imports in 1990, 2005, and 2007.
  • by geekoid (135745) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `dnaltropnidad'> on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @06:43PM (#37474368) Homepage Journal

    Now give people 40 hours shifts, and better pay and working conditions.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      How do you give them 40 hours shifts if a day has only 24 hours?

    • Unionize and and watch Wally World close down stores. [wikimedia.org]

    • Now give people 40 hours shifts, and better pay and working conditions.

      I haven't done a 40-hour 'shift' since College, but boy was that brutal. I wouldn't recommend it.

      I'd also not recommending eliminating low-paying jobs, because people who can't get high-paying jobs need low-paying jobs. Walmart shouldn't be a career for most people.

      • by hedwards (940851)

        It shouldn't be, and yet it is. Which is the problem, as the US dismantles the tools that the poor use to better their situation you find more and more people making a career out of busting their asses for low pay and little to no benefits.

        You're definitely right, nobody should be making a career out of it, but in practice there's plenty of folks who bust their humps for an entire career at minimum wage.

        • Re:Good (Score:4, Insightful)

          by jroysdon (201893) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @11:57PM (#37476444) Homepage

          One of the problems I see is that Walmart purposely keeps most of their employees at 40 hours/week so they can't get benefits. Further, they promote all of those employees getting on all the government assistance they can. Yeah, nice favor, but how about sharing your load and letting those who want to work 40 hours work that and obtain the benefits they should be provided and off of government assistance. Walmart's low prices are the result of than government-funding which we cannot afford, which not only drains the taxes coming, but increases the national debt and causes inflation to rise.

          We all pay for Walmart. The problem is that people won't say no. Not the lawmakers and not the masses who shop there.

  • So this is implying that each big box uses the same electricity as up to 27,000 homes? Shocking.

  • In California, electrical rates are insanely high. Even with the relatively low efficiency of solar and the high associated costs, when subsidies are taken into account it may simply be the cheapest path forward.

    None of this addresses why California's electrical rates are so high to begin with, of course.

    • Re:Costs (Score:5, Insightful)

      by currently_awake (1248758) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @07:41PM (#37474826)
      The reason California has the highest electricity costs in the western world is because they privatized the whole system but without any protection to protect the consumer from price fixing or profit maximization. Corporations like to gouge you, it's what they were designed for- to maximize profit. If the electric company anticipates demand and maintains the infrastructure you get safe reliable cheap power. If they don't you get costly unreliable dangerous power. The first costs more and brings in less (low profit), the second costs less and brings in more(high profit)- clearly the intelligent CEO will opt for the second plan.
      • Or, it could be that California blocked most efforts at new power stations that could hope to feed California's energy consumption growth for several decades, leaving them to purchase from neighboring states.
      • In the Western world? Get serious.

        California has high electrical costs because it uses low-carbon sources (natural gas) that cost more than coal. Additionally, the prices for electricity were locked in at a time when Enron and other companies were artificially manipulating the price of it. Far from there being no protection, these manipulations were neither legal nor moral.

        The electric company that maintains the infrastructure (PG&E for most of California) doesn't generate or sell electricity, so they d

  • Windows, duh! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by transami (202700) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @07:50PM (#37474900) Homepage

    You know, if they just put in some windows (hey light tubes too!), they could save a whole lot more money on lighting too.

    It always amazes me walking into these huge stores in the middle of the day, and they have hundreds of lights on to make it as bright inside as it already is outside. How hard is this to figure out?

    • Given the size of the average big box store, and the number of shelving units therein, I'm skeptical that windows would provide much light for most of the store. They'd also make heating and cooling a lot more expensive, probably more than wiping out whatever energy savings the store realized on lighting.

      • by jon3k (691256)
        You make some excellent points, but what about something like this [pesn.com]?
        • Interesting reference, but did you see the price of $8000 to light 1000 square feet? Sounds like a lot of area, but that's only 25x40. And that shiny reflector needs to be kept clean, so somebody is going to have to climb up on the roof and clean it every few days. (And insurance companies don't like that.) Also, such a highly directional system is ineffective on cloudy days, or even when an isolated cloud passes overhead.
      • by Nimey (114278)

        One of the area's Walmarts has lots of skylights in its ceilings. Can't speak as to HVAC efficiency, but on sunny days it's pretty bright in there.

    • hey light tubes

      You have me thinking... I wonder if its possble to wire the world with some special polymer fashioned in extremely long fibre optic light pipes... from the day side to the night side of the planet... so there is always light in the dark even without power.

      • I read long ago about projects for satellite mirrors that would focus, for example, on disaster zones so crews could work overnight as if it was day time.

    • You have never been in a walmart have you? I have never seen one without skylights.
      http://www.sunoptics.com/success_stories/retail/walmart/wal-mart.aspx [sunoptics.com]

  • I hope the solar cells are made in the USA but at the very least a large number of people will be employed doing the installs on these bid stores. Good for Wall Mart .

  • I just Know this is going to spawn some kind of Zombie film story, where the characters all end up at a Walmart because the power stays on. Or perhaps the Walmarts become the centers of resistance, with strange consequences for the future reshaping of society.
  • According to my calculations, this works out to about 8 Mwatts of generating capacity, approximately .045% of the total generating capacity in California...
    • According to my calculations, this works out to about 8 Mwatts of generating capacity

      Averaged over 24 hours a day, seven days a week, of course. In practice, it'll probably be closer to 20MW worth of panels.

      So, they'll basically have carbon credits (assuming CA is doing them by then) worth about $500K per year. Plus the electricity savings. Minus the increased property taxes based on the higher valuation of the property for the solar system.

      Wonder how much those solar panels are going to cost...

  • Solar panels on 75% of its stores will produce 20-30% (let's average at 25%) of those stores' electricity needs.This is 70m kWh, equal to the power for 5,400 homes and polution equal to 21,700 metric tons of CO2/4100 cars.

    So, they currently produce 4x that across those 75% of their stores plus a third again of that total for their other 25%. So 5 1/3x that figure. Or over 100,000 metric tons of CO2, the equivalent of almost 22,000 cars and draw the power of almost 30,000 homes - over a third of a billion ki

  • In my current job I manage development at an environmental software provider. We have a couple dozen chemical and petrochemical customers who are using our software to calculate and report there GHG emissions to the EPA. We are actually in the middle of the first year of reporting for 2010 this month. The plants who are reporting make chemicals that are used directly or indirectly be each of us everyday including ethylene, glycols, nylon precursors...the list goes on. To the point, a single ethylene cracker

  • To see the daily power generation for California's CAISO, including the contributions by wind and solar, here is the URL:

    http://www.caiso.com/Pages/TodaysOutlook.aspx [caiso.com]

    For 2011-09-21, peak power was about 38,000MW, peak wind contribution was about 1100MW, peak solar contribution was about 450MW
    Perhaps as more Walmart's, Ikea's, and residental grid-tied PV is added, the solar contributions will rise to what wind adds now.

  • Cue the WalMart Hate Brigade in 3... 2... 1...

    I really wish our culture had more interesting bogeymen.

    • by ryanov (193048)

      Because there's nothing to hate about Walmart? That's why you write this sarcastic comment?

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