Wal-Mart completes first stage of Solar RFP

Today Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. announced a major purchase of solar power from three solar power providers, BP Solar (NYSE:BP), SunEdison LLC, and PowerLight, a subsidiary of SunPower Corporation (NASDAQGM: SPWR), for 22 combined Wal-Mart stores, Sam’s Clubs and a distribution center in Hawaii and California.

Back in December, when Wal-Mart first put out the RFP, I predicted that SunEdision would participate, and that the solar utility model (where you don’t own the panels, but rather contract for solar power) would continue to gain steam. I think we can take this to mean that BP Solar, Powerlight, and SunEdison are very serious about pursuing this model, and also that they are serious about supplying solar power at a reasonable price. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be doing business with Wal-Mart.

For more of my thoughts on this business model, see my original article.

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3 Comments

  1. Very interesting, Tom.
    I understand that this “solar utility model” is the way SunEdison has been operating.
    But it’s a new direction, isn’t it, for BP Solar and SunPower?
    It makes sense to me, as you wrote in December, that WMT (and Staples, Whole Foods, etc) would rather buy electricity that worry about owning and operating a small solar installation.

  2. inel said

    This is good news, and here’s a link that works for BP Solar:

    http://www.bp.com/modularhome.do?categoryId=4260&contentId=7004852
    8-)
    TK: Thanks for catching hte broken link… it’s now fixed.

    Also, a month ago, Darmok posted on Google’s solar power initiative here:

    http://imparo.wordpress.com/2007/04/01/google-installs-9000-solar-panels/

    and in his comments I linked to a couple of large European solar power installations.

    It’s getting to the stage where I feel like I should map these projects on Google Earth as examples for kids to see “where in the world …?” and also bring these enormous projects to the attention of more people.

  3. Tom said

    I don’t know about Powerlight, but I found an announcement of something similar BP is doing in Europe:http://www.bp.com/genericarticle.do?categoryId=9002555&contentId=7017830. A month or so ago I heard a interview with the head of BP Wind, and he said that BP wind was happy to use whatever business model the customer wanted: build, build and maintain, or own. Another way to look at this may be to see it as a convergence of the wind and solar industries.

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