Walmart President and CEO Mike Duke announced the company’s next step on the path to achieving its goal of being supplied 100 percent by renewable energy. Unveiled at Walmart’s Global Sustainability Milestone Meeting, the company committed to achieving the following by Dec. 31, 2020:

• Drive the production or procurement of 7 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of renewable energy globally every year, a 600 percent increase over 2010 levels

• Reduce the kilowatt-hours-per-square-foot energy intensity required to power Walmart’s buildings globally by 20 percent compared to 2010 levels

Since it is such a giant entity, Walmart’s six-fold increase in renewable-energy projects serves as a case study for the electrical industry. It is expected to be equal to eliminating the need for roughly two U.S. fossil fuel power plants. Based on external estimates of projected energy costs and other factors, the two new commitments are anticipated to generate more than $1 billion annually in energy savings once fully implemented.

“More than ever, we know that our goal to be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy is the right goal and that marrying up renewables with energy efficiency is especially powerful,” Duke said. “The math adds up pretty quickly. When we use less energy, that’s less energy we have to buy, and that means less waste and more savings.

“When I look at the future, energy costs may grow as much as twice as fast as our anticipated store and club growth,” Duke said. “Finding cleaner and more affordable energy is important to our every day low-cost business model, and that makes it important to our customers’ pocketbooks. Our leadership in this area is something our customers can feel good about because the result is a cleaner environment and savings we can pass on to them.”

In 2012, Walmart added nearly 100 renewable-energy projects, bringing the total number of projects in operation worldwide to nearly 300 today. According to the Solar Energy Industry Association, Walmart has more solar power capacity and number of systems than any other company in America.

In the United States, Walmart hopes to install solar power on at least 1,000 rooftops and facilities by 2020, a significant increase from just more than 200 solar projects in operation or under development currently. In addition to on-site solar, the company will continue to develop projects in wind, fuel cells and other technologies. It will also procure off-site renewable energy from utility-scale projects, such as large wind projects, micro-hydro projects and geothermal.

Andrew Steer, president and CEO of World Resources Institute, said Walmart’s goals may spur other companies to take similar action.

To meet its energy-efficiency goal for 2020, Walmart projects to increase light-emitting diode (LED) usage in sales floor lighting, parking lots and other applications. Walmart will also focus on market-relevant scalable technologies, including high-efficiency heating, ventilating, and air conditioning; refrigeration systems; and sophisticated energy/building control systems, all areas that are in the electrical contractor’s range of capabilities.