Walmart suppliers will soon find it easier to leverage renewable energy sources, thanks to the retailer’s new partnership with Schneider Electric.
Companies all around the world are working hard to reduce their impact on the environment, and Walmart is no different. The world’s second largest retailer has already made strides to improve its own environmental record, installing Tesla solar panels on many of its stores across the US. Unfortunately, some of those solar panels caught fire, causing tensions between Walmart and Tesla that led to a lawsuit, but the company is still optimistic about renewable energy production.
That’s why it wants its US-based suppliers to also utilise renewable energy, giving Walmart an even greener record than it currently holds. However, in order to get its suppliers to widely switch to getting their energy from renewable sources, Walmart knows that its suppliers will need education, as well as cheap and easy access to renewable energy sources.
To achieve its goals, Walmart has partnered with Schneider Electric’s Energy & Sustainability Services (ESS) to run a new program, dubbed the Gigaton PPA. This will utilise Schneider Electric’s NEO Network, a global collaboration platform and community of more than 300 corporate renewable energy purchasers and solution providers.
Schneider Electric’s team of renewable energy experts will engage participating Walmart suppliers and facilitate a multi-phase education and project selection process to advance supplier progress towards the execution of aggregated renewable energy purchases.
Walmart hopes that the partnership with Schneider Electric will address many concerns coming from smaller firms in the US regarding the switch to renewable energy use. These issues include: lack of size needed to approach the market individually, insufficient education on the specific mechanics of renewable energy transactions, and guidance on how to secure renewable energy.
In regards to the first issue, the aggregated power purchase agreements will help massively. The advantage of these agreements is that it works on collective bargaining, giving access to renewable energy generation without one firm having to bear the burden of high costs. Instead it is divided by multiple firms who will all benefit from the energy produced.
Additionally, Walmart says the Gigaton PPA initiative will make it possible for more companies to learn about energy purchases, access renewable energy, reduce emissions, and increase their ability to contribute towards Project Gigaton. The program will start by educating participants on the renewable energy market, providing guidance on the projects, and bringing together interested companies to contract for renewable energy as a cohort, leveraging the size of the group to achieve an economy of scale. Walmart will serve as the convening champion for the program, inviting suppliers to join.
The agreement between Walmart and Schneider Electric is part of the retailer’s Project Gigagton, which aims to avoid one gigaton (one billion metric tons) of carbon dioxide from Walmart’s global value chain by 2030. To date, more than 2,300 suppliers from 50 countries are participating in Project Gigaton. Suppliers have reported a cumulative 230 million metric tons of avoided emissions since 2017 – more than 20% of the goal – through energy, waste, packaging, agriculture, forests, and product use and design.
“The Gigaton PPA Program is the kind of innovation-in-action needed to help our suppliers take the next step towards low-carbon emissions, helping to build a more sustainable future for our communities,” said Zach Freeze, senior director, Sustainability at Walmart.
“Through Schneider Electric’s work with our suppliers, the program aims to democratise access to renewable energy, and accelerate its use with our supplier base.”
“It is our honor to work with Walmart on this revolutionary program,” said Steve Wilhite, Senior Vice President, Schneider Electric. “The company is demonstrating significant leadership by increasing access to utility-scale renewable energy opportunities for their suppliers as part of the Project Gigaton ambition. The GPPA program aims to bring a significant amount of new wind and solar to the grid at a time when climate action is most urgent.”