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Wal-Mart Leads Solar Deployments

Author: Source: Datetime: 2016-10-16 20:33:49
wal-martLeading solar energy adopters do not come from California like California, but from Bentonville, Arkansas.

Wal-Mart has 142 megawatts of installed PV capacity in 2015 and is pursuing 100% renewable energy targets. The company is now starting to develop energy storage strategies.

The company has deployed 17 energy storage projects, all in California, including six 200 kW / 400 kWh solar cells. Mark Vanderhelm, Wal-Mart's vice president of energy, told the San Diego Energy Storage North America conference last week that the systems currently provide companies with time-to-use and peak demand reduction services.

There is no specific schedule yet, but Vanderhelm said he is researching future applications such as frequency regulation, demand response, bid-to-capacity markets, critical load backup power supplies, and paired with on-site microgrid operation.

Vanderhelm envisions Wal-Mart becoming a community center in an emergency.

"We want to be a place to start a community after a natural disaster," he said.

In an interview after the meeting, Vanderhelm elaborated on "We have no fixed commitment in this regard", but we are considering.

The idea comes from a previous event when Wal-Mart stores play a role in keeping community members safe from extreme weather events.

Since the Wal-Mart stores have installed a large amount of solar powered portable generator power on the roofs and parking lots, some stores even have functional microgrids, and the battery will complete a self-reliant circle. Diesel generators can provide a cheaper alternative source, but they often fail, and once the fuel is exhausted, they can not work. The battery may allow the solar system to be disconnected from the grid and provide additional clean standby power until the grid is restored.

It is not clear what kind of monetary value this service will bring. But it will offer "another opportunity for us to take care of our customers" and, possibly, to sell more.

Combined with other grid service revenues, Wal-Mart's storage investment could end up being a real money loser.
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