United States

United States

Walmart continues its push into wind energy

UNITED STATES: Walmart's announcement this week that it will dramatically increase its use of renewable energy highlights an emerging trend for US wind energy developers to look for new markets.

The retail giant says it will drive the production or procurement of 7 billion/kWh of renewable energy globally every year, a 600% increase over 2010 levels, as part of its goal to obtain 100% of its electricity from renewables by the end of 2020.

Walmart currently draws power from a GE Energy 1.5MW turbine installed last year at its distribution centre in Red Bluff, California, as well as 60% of the output of the 153MW Notrees wind farm in Texas.

Conversely, the retailer's support of wind power does not always extend to other projects. In 2010, Walmart spoke up about Cape Wind's power purchase agreement with National Grid.

Walmart said that while it agreed with the concept of wind power, it was concerned that the higher costs of electricity would be passed on to customers.

Corporate wind energy

Corporate purchasers of wind energy represent a growing market segment for the US wind industry, Jim Adams, president of Natural Power, told the recent Infocast Wind Power Finance and Investment Summit."People are looking towards non-traditional power purchasers."

AWEA's recently released annual report shows at least 18 industrial buyers, 11 school districts, and eight towns or cities were direct purchasers of wind in 2012.

A big driver is the environmental value that wind energy brings, said Jerry Bloom, a partner at law firm Winston & Strawn. "The private sector wants to get their hands on this."

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