Commercial, Distributed Energy Resources, Energy Efficiency, Energy Storage, Finance  -  April 12, 2017

Wal-Mart to turn stores into 'hybrid electric buildings'

Wind microturbines are seen in this photo, provided by Wal-Mart, of a Massachusetts store.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has reached an agreement that will allow the retail giant to begin deploying advanced energy storage systems at select stores. 

Wal-Mart, which has recently been testing a number of energy storage technologies, is working with Advanced Microgrid Solutions to deploy its "Hybrid Electric Building" technology, according to an April 11 news release. The energy storage systems are expected to "improve efficiency, guarantee energy savings, and provide fast, flexible grid support to local utilities," according to the statement.

Beginning with a first phase that incorporates the installation of 40 MWh of storage systems at 27 Wal-Mart stores in Southern California, AMS said it will design, install and operate the systems at no cost to the retailer. The systems are expected to reduce each store's peak electricity demand while also providing dispatchable grid support to their utility, Edison International subsidiary Southern California Edison. 

"Cost efficiency is the hallmark of the Wal-Mart brand," Mark Vanderhelm, vice president of energy for Wal-Mart said in a statement. "Adding energy storage capabilities to our clean energy resources reduces the capacity needed from the grid and is part of our commitment to increase reliance on renewable energy." 

The retailer's corporate sustainability goals include a renewable energy target of 50% by 2025 as part of a plan designed to achieve science-based targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions 18% by the same time frame. 

Wal-Mart has been experimenting with a number of different energy storage applications, focused in regions like California where state incentives exist and offsetting costs are the most critical, Vanderhelm said at an energy storage conference in October 2016. The company announced a series of projects at its California locations in 2016, and expects to move into New York and Massachusetts next. 

According to the news release, the Hybrid Electric Buildings technology "automatically and efficiently optimize a building's overall energy usage, controlling energy consumption and lowering costs, while generating revenues from utilities for grid services." Additionally, the technology will allow SoCalEd to tap into the advanced energy storage systems to reduce demand on the grid, and will play a role in the utility's grid modernization plans. 

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