Wal-Mart to use wind turbine to help power California building

Tue Aug 7, 2012 3:09pm EDT

The Wal-Mart logo is pictured on cash registers at a new store in Chicago, January 24, 2012. REUTERS/John Gress

The Wal-Mart logo is pictured on cash registers at a new store in Chicago, January 24, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/John Gress

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(Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc will soon use the power of the wind to help run a distribution center in California as the world's largest retailer continues to look for ways to reduce its impact on the environment and cut costs.

The wind turbine, at a distribution center in Red Bluff, California, is Wal-Mart's latest effort in sustainability.

Wal-Mart aims to eventually be supplied by 100 percent renewable energy and create no waste. It has also pushed its suppliers to decrease their impact on the environment, through efforts such as reducing package sizes and the amount of plastic they use.

Wal-Mart said the new wind turbine, its first onsite large-scale wind turbine pilot, should be up and running by this fall. It is expected to provide roughly one megawatt of power, or 15 percent to 20 percent of the distribution center's yearly electrical use.

The wind turbine will be installed, owned and operated by Foundation Windpower, and Wal-Mart will buy the power produced under a long-term agreement.

If the project is successful, Wal-Mart plans to evaluate the potential for large-scale turbine installations at other U.S. distribution centers, Greg Pool, the company's senior manager of renewable energy and emissions, said in a statement.

The GE SLE 1.0 Megawatt wind turbine, at 265 feet high, with a blade with a diameter of 250 feet, is about as high as a 20-story building, Wal-Mart said. It should produce about 2.2 million kilowatt hours annually.

Wal-Mart already has 180 renewable energy projects in operation, including a 90-megawatt wind farm in West Texas that provides 15 percent of power for more than 300 Walmart stores and Sam's Clubs. In addition, 348 stores in Mexico are supplied by wind power, providing 17 percent of the energy needed for Walmart de Mexico, or Walmex.

Twelve mini wind turbines power a Walmart store in Worchester, Massachusetts, and 27 stores are set to have solar panel installations by 2014, Wal-Mart said. The company already has more than 140 solar installations in six states, most of them in California.

(Reporting by Jessica Wohl in Chicago; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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