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Wal-Mart employs new film solar technology


Bentonville, Ark. Wal-Mart Stores said Monday it will expand its renewable energy efforts through lighter, lower-cost thin film solar technology.

The retailer said it will add solar generating systems to another 20 to 30 sites in California and Arizona, and the majority of these locations will feature the new technology. The new solar power systems will be designed, installed, owned and maintained by SolarCity, Foster City, Calif.

"Developing and incorporating new renewable energy sources, like thin film, reduces energy price risk and aligns very well with our commitment to solving business challenges through technology," said Kim Saylors Laster, Wal-Mart VP energy.

When complete, this project is expected to supply up to 20% to 30% of the total energy needs for each location; produce up to 22.5 million kilowatt hours of clean energy per year; avoid producing more than 11,650 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually; and add to the 31 current solar installations Walmart has in California and Hawaii.

Thin film solar panels look similar to the traditional crystalline panels, but require fewer raw materials to manufacture, resulting in a smaller environmental impact over its life cycle, according to Wal-Mart.

The Walmart projects are using both copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) and cadmium telluride thin film. The company's large scale on-site installation of CIGS could help further the development of this technology and bring it to market quicker, it said, while use of cadmium telluride thin film could help make the case for other businesses to adopt the technology for on-site commercial use.

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