At Advancing Renewables event, Wal-Mart director outlines big energy aims

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, has set an ambitious energy goal for 2025: to power half of its operations from renewable sources. 

The Arkansas-based company will use “a combination of energy efficiency and renewable energy to reduce emissions in operations by 18 percent,” Steve Chriss, Wal-Mart’s director of energy and strategy analysis, said at the Advancing Renewables in the Midwest conference.

Advancing Renewables in the Midwest is a two-day event held every spring at the University of Missouri. It was first organized in 2006 and is co-sponsored by MU, the Missouri Department of Economic Development and Columbia Water and Light.

The event, held this year on April 24 and 25, focuses on programs, policies and projects that expand the use of renewable energy in the Midwest.

Wal-Mart’s Chriss said the company is the first retailer to set science-based targets for emissions reduction and already boasts 60 fuel cells and 360 solar projects installed in the U.S. Wal-Mart has been powering a quarter of its operations from renewable sources since 2015, he said.

“The target is science-based, which is the level of decarbonization needed to keep global temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial times,” Chriss said.

There is economic potential in the growth of renewables for businesses in Missouri, Chriss said, but there are also barriers to that growth. He said most of the impediments stem from a lack of direct access to off-site resources and the ambiguity of legislation.

Speakers at the Advancing Renewables in the Midwest conference addressed ways to expand the economic benefits of renewable energy in Missouri. | Sintia Radu/Missouri Business Alert

Other speakers at the conference included Dan Chiles, chairman of the board of Renew Missouri, a non-profit that promotes efficiency and renewable energy policy in the state. He talked about Missouri’s relationship with renewables.

Kristy Manning, director for the Division of Energy at the Missouri Department of Economic Development, touched on the economic importance of renewable energy in the Show-Me State.

John Freitag, executive director of the Geothermal Alliance of Illinois, a trade association for the geothermal heat pump industry in Illinois, spoke about the importance of using geothermal energy and how Missouri meets the natural requirements to invest more in this area.

“Missouri should look more into geothermal,” Freitag said, “as temperatures underground in the Midwest are perfect for geothermal.”

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