Target defends its crown as largest adopter of on-site corporate solar power

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SEIA has officially released its 2018 Solar Means Business Report, outlining solar adoption by businesses across the United States, from both Fortune 500 giants to small business all across the country. However this edition marks the first in the report’s 7-year history to track off-site installations, as well as data on solar systems located at the site of the businesses themselves.

For some perspective as to the scope of the report, tracked within it are more than 35,000 projects in 43 states which account for more than 7 GW of capacity, roughly 70% of the United States’ commercial and industrial solar market.

This new off-site section of the report is led unsurprisingly by web giants Apple and Amazon, with perennial on-site champ Target taking bronze in this category and showing that they can keep up with the big guys.

The throne, however, belongs to Apple, which sits on a total installed capacity of 393 MW, edging out Amazon’s 329 by just 63.5 MW and blowing well by the rest of the competition. Apple’s portfolio is led by a 130 MW installation in Monterey County south of San Francisco. Apple actually purchases the energy from this project through a power purchase agreement (PPA) signed with First Solar, which was initially announced in 2015. However, while Apple owns the most capacity, the largest singular installation belongs to Switch, who’s entire 179 MW portfolio comes courtesy of one project in California, with the company, like Apple, opting for a PPA.

The report also features an interactive project map, for anyone interested in the makeup of these companies’ portfolios.

One interesting company not appearing on this list is Facebook, though it won’t be that way for much longer. In the past year the company finalized deals for large solar projects in Alabama, Tennessee and Texas, all of which clock in at over 100 MW in capacity. Just like that classic Jay-Z album, Apple had better watch the throne, because others are coming for it, though Apple did add the most capacity of any top-10 company this year, at 130 MW.

 

Target, Walmart top on-site rankings

But, enough with offsite. This report has made its mark by showing commitments to on-site solar, so that’s where we’ll head next.

This is where Target really shines, being the only company to appear within the top-3 for both on-site capacity and total installed capacity. Recognition should be given to Walmart, who is 4th in terms of total capacity and second here in on-site. Target’s 229 MW come from a vast portfolio of 464 installations, while Walmart boasts 152 MW over 375 installations.

Third place may come as a surprise, occupied by real estate investment trust company Prologis, who was third on last year’s list as well with a capacity of 126 MW across 61 mostly rooftop installations, good for 9th place in total installations. Prologis holds the distinction of being the only company in the top-3 to average more than 1 MW per installation. For anyone curious about third place in total installations, it is Walgreens with 230.

Unfortunately, the end of the report does bring with it some sour notes, though that sourness is mild.

Total corporate installations fell from 2017 to 2018, nearly below 2016 figures. 1,368 MW was installed in 2017, with 785 MW being on-site and 583 MW being off-site. Compare that with 2018, where 1,145 MW was installed in total, with 733 MW being on-site and 412 MW located off-site.

This should not be much of a surprise, given that the uncertainty around the Section 201 tariffs significantly interrupted project development during late 2017 and early 2018. And as Facebook is set to enter the fray in the coming years, it is fair to expect much bigger numbers in 2019 and 2020.

Edit 7/26/19: It was brought to SEIA’s attention that a project they listed as completed for Equinix, one of their previously reported top 10 companies, was cancelled. The new top 10 ranking for corporate solar adoption is as follows: 

  1. Apple
  2. Amazon
  3. Target
  4. Walmart
  5. Switch
  6. Google
  7. Kaiser Permanente
  8. Prologis
  9. Solvay
  10. Fifth Third Bank

Click here to access an updated report. SEIA apologizes for the error.