How US companies are going solar massively

This week I am starting a ten-month series based on articles I wrote for my Operations classes for my MBA at Presidio Graduate School. Hope you will like this series !

If companies are able to choose their suppliers for many goods and services they will need to operate and survive, utilities are different. Energy, water and waste often cannot be changed as there is one supplier in the area.

However, for larger companies, the choice can be different. Going solar can be a solution to cut costs while lowering significantly their carbon footprints. Indeed, solar photovoltaic emits less than 50 grams of CO2 equivalent per kWh compared to one thousand grams of carbon dioxide for coal and around 500 grams for natural gas.

According to the Solar Means Business report from the Solar Energy Inudstry Association (SEIA), the price of commercial solar installation has dropped from above $6 per Watt installed in 2010 to below $3,50 in 2015. This explains why Fortune 100 companies have installed collectively over a gigawatt of solar capacity per year since 2012, In 2010 that number was below 400 MW.


Still to this report, in 2015 Walmart boasts 142 MW of capacity accross 348 installations. The second biggest installed capacity by a company is 98 MW by Prologis. Target comes third with 71 MW.

Companies can choose to either install solar panels on roofs, on the ground or in carports. Still to the SEIA, over 90 percent of systems are installed on roofs. This solution is the most cost-effective but it has the lowest average system size as roof space can be a limiting factor.

Ground mounts represent 4 percent of projects and 15 percent of capacity. Carports are a little bit more common but have a much smaller average capacity.

Number of installations

Average capacity



419 kW

Ground mounted


2,549 kW



782 kW

37 US States have commercial capacity installed. Not surprisingly, California leads the Nation with 548 installations and 287 MW of capacity. New Jersey comes second with 319 installations and 227 MW of capacity. All other States have less than 50 MW.

Companies use solar in many different settings. Whether it is for their office buildings and corporate campuses or their retail centers, their plants, their warehouses or their data centers.

To conclude, one can easily see that solar has a great future in commercial applications as prices keep on decreasing and as the climate imperative becomes more important.

Image credits: Flickr, h080

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