Thursday, March 3, 2011

Walmart to Install Thin Film Solar Panels

Walmart Solar Prominent corporations are paying special attention to go green and create a conducive environment for clean and green energy. Walmart too is taking appreciative steps in the field of alternative energy. In the year 2007, Walmart entered into a partnership with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to provide a thrust to the photovoltaic technologies. It was related with thin-film solar. They aimed for taking it out from labs to the real world.

In the practical world, products should be commercially viable, consistent, and cost effective. Walmart is already installing the solar panels in its stores in southern California, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Now they made it public to install more solar panels to another 20 to 30 outlets in California and Arizona. With this step they are moving towards their pledge of going 100% green in future.

Walmart will procure its thin-film solar panels from Tempe, Arizona-based First Solar and MiaSolé. First Solar utilizes cadmium telluride and MiaSolé, and makes use of copper, indium, gallium and selenide (CIGS) for their modules. Both of these companies offer low cost solar panels and provide an alternative to costly silicon based panels.

Why California and Arizona: California and Arizona were chosen for the new Walmart solar installations because of the simple fact that these two states receive ample sunshine. But another economic fact is that these two states provide financial incentives thus giving necessary impetus for the expansion of solar drive. Walmart also aims to portray itself as an organization that cares about the world its customers live in. It is not merely the price that attracts consumers towards brands and organizations it is also the way they conduct business and show sensitivity towards burning issues like the environment and natural disasters. So aside from cost savings and upfront incentives Walmart also feels enthusiastic about the environmental impact its new decisions are going to make.

Advantages of Thin-Film semiconductors:
First advantage is that these films are less costly than silicon based solar panels. Another plus point is since these films are just 1 micron thick they require less materials for manufacturing. They offer one more good advantage: since these panels are light in weight they can be easily mounted on flat rooftops and work deftly during accumulation of snow too. Thin-film panels don’t interfere with skylights. They also work better in smog or fog conditions. In advanced applications, thin film solar can even be incorporated into the building envelope itself, further reducing life-cycle cost.

Project’s Success: Alternative energy project’s successes are calculated by two mainly yardsticks. First, some significant amount of energy is converted into clean and green energy and second, how much greenhouse gas emissions are reduced. Thin-Film solar cells’ performance is not disappoint on these two fronts. They cost around the same or slightly less than the electricity generated from the conventional sources. Installing thin-film solar cells also give returns like any other infrastructure project.

Future Performance of Thin-Film solar Cells for Walmart:
After the installation of the thin-film solar cells in the proposed locations of Walmart they are expected to yield more than 22.5 million kilowatt hours of energy per year. This will meet up the 20 to 30% needs of the each outlets. If we want to know in terms of reduction in greenhouse gases, it would be equal to more than 11,650 metric tons of GHG. It means we are taking more than 3,000 cars off the road each year.

Kim Saylors Laster, who is the Walmart vice president of energy, says, “By leveraging our global scale to become a more efficient company, we are able to lower our expenses and help develop markets for new technologies. Developing and incorporating new renewable energy sources, like thin film, reduces energy price risk and aligns very well with our commitment to solving business challenges through technology.”

Looking at the 8,350 outlets of Wallmart, their going green move is still in infancy. They have a long way to go.

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