Baltimore – Big box retail stores can help Maryland increase its clean energy production, according to a new report from Environment Maryland Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group. Solar on Superstores: Big Roofs, Big Potential for Renewable Energy calculates that the 1,801 big box buildings in Maryland can generate 1,585.6 gigawatt-hours of clean electricity by putting solar panels on their roofs, enough to power 148,900 average American homes. That could offset 1,177,500 metric tons of global warming pollution, which is the equivalent of taking 256,083 cars off the road.
“Maryland would greatly benefit from embracing no-brainer solutions like big-box solar,” said Wade Wilson, a report co-author who leads the Solar on Superstore’s campaign for Environment Maryland Research & Policy Center. “Right now, we’re missing out on a great opportunity to produce clean, renewable energy where it’s used. That needs to change. Putting solar panels on the roofs and parking lots of big-box stores will be a big win for Maryland’s environment.”
The report also finds that installing solar on big box stores can provide numerous other benefits in Maryland beyond just the environment. These include a more resilient energy grid, cost savings for electricity consumers, and cleaner air quality. For high-profile brands such as Walmart, Target, and The Home Depot, installing solar panels offers a difference-making opportunity in local communities. For that reason, Environment Maryland Research & Policy Center, along with its national partner Environment America Research & Policy Center, launched a campaign in 2021 calling on Walmart to install solar panels on all of its viable roofs and parking lots by 2035.
“Big companies like Walmart have the chance to shine in the much-needed renewable energy transition,” said Wilson. “There are 61 Walmart locations in Maryland. Each store has a big, flat, unobstructed roof, which is ideal for generating solar energy. We know this would be a win for the environment and for business, and that’s why we’re calling on Walmart to go big on solar.”
Along with providing national and state data, the report recommends a number of public policies for states to pursue. These include championing community solar programs, streamlining solar permitting by leaning on tools like the Department of Energy’s SolarAPP+, and extending state-level solar energy tax credits. The final recommendation is especially important to Maryland, given the steady decrease in Solar Renewable Energy Credits values over the last few years.