A new analysis by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and The Solar Foundation (TSF) has found that Whole Foods Market’s approach to rooftop solar installations in multiple facilities could be a valuable model for other retailers to consider.
The analysis, “Whole Foods Market – Making the Case for Rapid Solar Rollouts,” outlines how the grocer will complete solar installations at multiple facilities within two years. Whole Foods Market recently announced a plan to retrofit approximately 100 facilities with rooftop solar by 2017 – in addition to the 40 solar installations already completed by the end of last year.
“Whole Foods Market is going solar using an innovative approach that will save money, save time and benefit the environment,” said Andrea Luecke, president and executive director of TSF. “We hope that other retailers will look to this approach as a guide for how to rapidly install solar across multiple facilities.”
To accomplish this solar rollout expeditiously, the report says, Whole Foods Market has to overcome several challenges: First, negotiating separate arrangements with landlords for each unique solar project can be time-consuming and expensive. Second, roof quality can be a concern, especially in older buildings. Finally, the costs of financing each project can be inconsistent and uncertain, according to the analysis.
RILA and TSF say Whole Foods Market addressed these challenges in two different ways.
First, toward the end of the last decade, they began including standardized language in their solar leases, which paved the way for future solar development. Earlier this year, the grocer selected two firms, NRG and SolarCity, to develop the new rooftop solar systems. Working with only two system providers, Whole Foods Market was able to benefit from better terms, volume pricing and consistent, field-tested hardware, the analysis says.
“Whole Foods Market was able to find sensible solutions to many common challenges retailers face when implementing solar and ultimately created a smart pathway for expansion,” explained Erin Hiatt, RILA’s senior manager for sustainability and compliance. “With more and more businesses exploring solar as a highly cost-effective way to expand renewable energy generation, Whole Foods Market offers a replicable approach for the industry.”
The complete analysis can be found here.