Led by tech and retail giants, American companies are installing record levels of solar to power their operations and now account for 14% of all installed solar capacity in the United States, according to the Solar Means Business 2022 report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
The report, which tracks and analyzes commercial solar adoption, named Meta, Amazon, Apple, Walmart and Microsoft as the top five corporate solar users in America.
Through June, U.S. businesses had installed nearly 19 GW of on-site and off-site solar capacity, which is double the 9.4 GW installed through 2019. This recent growth is due to the rapid expansion of off-site corporate solar procurement, which now represents 55% of all commercial solar use.
“About half of all corporate solar has been installed in the last two and half years,” says SEIA president and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper. “Solar Means Business highlights the incredible flexibility of solar, whether it’s installed on a warehouse roof, on a carport or at an off-site facility, showing the various ways that companies are meeting their needs with clean, affordable energy. From data centers to industrial freezers, the most energy-intensive business operations are turning to solar as the most reliable and affordable way to power their infrastructure.”
Meta dramatically increased its installed solar capacity – from 177 MW in early 2019 to 3.6 GW today – and now has the largest corporate solar portfolio in the United States. Target remains the top on-site corporate solar user, while Microsoft leapt into the top 10 by installing 479 MW of new capacity since 2019.
“We are proud of the work we have done to add new solar energy to the grid, bringing additional investment to rural areas and helping support the transition to renewables,” says Urvi Parekh, head of renewable energy at Meta. “As we continue to fulfill our goal to support our global operations with 100% renewable energy, we look forward to working with others, including SEIA, to facilitate the energy transition and support a sustainable, affordable and reliable electricity grid.”
Walmart’s diverse set of on-site and off-site solar has kept them in the top five for the last decade.
“Solar energy is a key part of Walmart’s commitment to become a regenerative company, powered by 100 percent renewable energy by 2035,” states Vishal Kapadia, senior vice president of energy transformation at Walmart. “Our onsite and offsite solar projects have helped us deliver strong progress toward our goal, with 46 percent of our global electricity needs supplied by renewable energy as of 2021.”
Companies like Intel, Google, Switch and Digital Realty are all using solar energy at data center facilities, which help to power critical information and data infrastructure. In addition, food and beverage giants like Ab Inbev and Starbucks, health care companies like Kaiser Permanente and DaVita, and other top brands like Home Depot and T-Mobile are all top 25 corporate solar users.
“We are honored to be recognized for our on-site solar generation efforts,” states Susan Uthayakumar, chief energy and sustainability officer at Prologis. “This is only the beginning as we work toward our goal of 1 gigawatt of solar by 2025. We’ve long been an industry leader in solar. It’s an area we have and continue to invest in for two reasons – it makes good business sense, and it is good for the planet.”
There are now 23 U.S. companies that have installed at least 100 MW of solar capacity, up from 11 companies in 2019. Eighteen of the top 25 companies ranked in this report are pursuing 100% renewable energy or carbon neutral goals.
The full report tracks over 47,000 corporate solar installations nationwide, which combined generate enough electricity to power 3.2 million homes and offset 20.4 million metric tons of carbon annually.
“As the world’s largest temperature-controlled industrial REIT and logistics solutions provider, Lineage Logistics has dedicated itself to limiting our impact on the environment as we play a crucial role in the global food supply chain,” says Chris Thurston, director of energy and sustainability at Lineage Logistics. “As we live out our purpose of eliminating food waste and helping to feed the world, we are proud of our team’s efforts to do so in a way that will have a positive impact on our planet. Our hope is that the findings from the Solar Means Business report motivate other companies to adopt solar energy usage and join the effort of ensuring future generations will have a cleaner, healthier planet.”
In addition, the report now tracks commercial solar projects that are paired with battery storage, which is particularly helpful for businesses that provide essential services or supply critical information or data infrastructure.
Total commercial solar installations are expected to double again over the next 3 years with nearly 27 GW of off-site corporate solar projects scheduled to come online by 2025. This represents nearly a third of the total contracted solar pipeline.
The top 25 corporate solar users in 2022 include Meta, Amazon, Apple, Walmart, Microsoft, Target, Cargill, Kaiser Permanente, AB Inbev, Evraz North America, Digital Realty, Switch, Prologis, Starbucks, Google, Allianz, Intel, Home Depot, Fifth Third Bank, T-Mobile, Davita, Lineage Logistics, L3Harris Technologies, Solvay and Corning.
Read the full report here.