Home Depot plans to convert 50 store rooftops nationwide into mini solar farms, the company announced on Thursday. The installations will go on unused rooftops and slash electricity demand in each of those stores by approximately 30% to 35% annually. To get the job done, the retailer is turning to Tesla’s battery system and General Electric’s energy-focused startup Current.
The average Home Depot store rooftop has approximately 104,000 square feet of available space, which the company says can accommodate 1,000 solar panels. Nationwide, the retailer has 2,282 stores total. In order to lease roof space and generate solar energy for the project, the company is utilizing power purchase agreements.
GE’s Current specializes in combining energy technologies like solar with networked sensors and software to make commercial buildings more energy efficient. The startup will handle the majority of the Home Depot installations, including 20 in New Jersey and several others at stores in Connecticut, Maryland, and Washington, DC. Current says they plan to deploy approximately 30,000 rooftop panels for the 11.9-megawatt project.
Some of the Home Depot store installations in each region will get additional metering, according to Current. Digital tests that collect information about the local grid interaction, onsite solar plant production, and the weather from sensors should help the retailer optimize its energy usage over the long term at similar locations, Current said in a statement about the project.
The rest of the solar rooftop installations are planned for stores in New York and California. Of those, six will use Tesla Powerpacks, scalable battery systems that can store and dispatch energy as needed.
Home Depot aims to utilize 135 megawatts of alternative and renewable energy by 2020. Putting mini solar farms on 50 store rooftops is expected to help get the company to 130 megawatts. Other efforts include solar farms in Delaware and Massachusetts with 14.5 million kilowatt hours of combined output annually, adding fuel cells to more than 170 stores and distribution centers to produce about 90% of the electricity each store requires to operate, and sourcing energy from a wind farm in Texas.
Construction on the solar rooftop installations will go through the end of this year, the company says.