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Walmart Unveils First On-Site Wind Turbine

Walmart is testing its first onsite, large-scale wind turbine at a distribution center in Red Bluff, California. The wind turbine, expected to be operational by this fall, will provide roughly one megawatt of power or 15 to 20 percent of the distribution center's yearly electrical use.

The GE wind turbine sits atop a 265-feet-tall tower and has a blade diameter of 250 feet - approximately equal to the height of a 20-story building. It is projected to produce approximately 2,200,000 kilowatt hours annually.

Under a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) arrangement, Foundation Windpower installs, owns, and operates the wind turbine and Walmart purchases the electricity. The renewable energy contributes to the company’s goal of achieving 100 percent clean power, and the PPA provides greater price certainty than grid-supplied power.

"We are using every tool in the tool box as we work toward our goal to be supplied by 100 percent renewable energy, and wind energy is an attractive technology for Walmart," said Greg Pool, senior manager of renewable energy and emissions at Walmart and project manager of the Red Bluff installation. "We found the perfect environment for an installation with the Red Bluff project – good wind conditions and open land that we own. As a result, we expect to reduce our energy costs from the day we flip the on switch. Should the technology at Red Bluff prove successful, Walmart will evaluate the potential for large-scale turbine installations at other distribution center sites in the United States."

The turbine in Red Bluff joins several other wind power projects pursued by Walmart. A 90-megawatt wind farm in West Texas generates the equivalent of 15 percent of the power for more than 300 Walmart stores and Sam's Clubs in the state. In Mexico, Walmart purchased windpower equal to roughly 17 percent of the power requirements for 348 stores. Fourteen stores in Northern Ireland are supplied by 100 percent wind power. And in Massachusetts 12 mini wind turbines help to power a Walmart store in Worchester.

The company also employs fuel-cell power in California, and has 140 solar installations in six U.S. states.

IKEA is another massive retailer active in wind and solar power development. The company has 69 wind turbines and 124 PV projects installed at 40 facilities in seven countries (Germany, Canada, Spain, US, Italy, UK and Belgium) and another 84 approved.

Kirkbi A/S – parent company of toymaker Lego - is investing EUR 400 million (US$ 535 million) over the next four years into the construction of a massive wind farm off the coast of Germany. Lego is also among the initial group of companies that will use the world’s first wind power consumer label, called WindMade.

Bart King is a PR/marketing communications consultant and principal at Cleantech Communications.

Bart King is the principal of New Growth Communications, a network of affiliated content producers and strategists serving clients in the emerging green economy. He is also Associate Editor of Sponsored Content for Sustainable Brands. Follow him @bart_king [Read more about Bart King]

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