Image Credit: Wal Mart Mexico
Wal Mart Mexico's Solar Array Signals Longer Term Goals
Lloyd said it before — it's getting harder to hate Wal Mart. Yes, they are a gigantic retail monolith selling an awful lot of stuff. But of all the gigantic retail monoliths that sell an awful lot of stuff, Wal Mart are also pushing an incredible amount of important initiatives. From 360 wind powered stores to pushing 100 million compact fluorescent bulbs or promoting locally grown, organic products, Wal Mart are making moves that few would have predicted even a few short years ago. Now Wal Mart Mexico is getting in on the act, launching a 174kw solar array on top of Bodega Aurrera Aguascalientes, one of its stores.
While nowhere near the size of many recent record breaking solar projects elsewhere, (the largest solar roof in the world being GM's 12MW system in Spain), the array is apparently the largest solar array in Latin America. Whether or not we compare it to international records, it is still a major step forward, and a step forward that may encourage the kind of "solar arms race" we've been seeing elsewhere in the world, with new projects getting bigger all the time. Encouragingly this project is being billed as just a beginning for Wal Mart Mexico.
"This is the first large-scale project to generate energy using photovoltaic panels, not only for Wal-Mart Mexico, but for Wal-Mart International. This puts Mexico at the head of the energy field. The project reinforces our commitment to obtain all the energy the company requires from renewable sources by 2025", said Raul Arguelles, Senior Vice President for Corporate Affairs and People Division at Wal-Mart Mexico.
According to Wal Mart Mexico's press release, besides a goal of 100% renewable energy by 2025, the group is also aiming at zero waste and zero water discharge by that same date, as well as a more short term increase of 25% of "eco-friendly" items in their catalog by 2012. Now whether or not such impressive measures mitigate Wal Mart's effect on local economies, or its continued push for lower prices, is a debate that is likely to continue among us environmentalists. But if a retail monolith is going to exist, then I'd much rather a retail monolith that has very real, very ambitious, and very measurable goals toward clean energy and waste reduction.