As we’ve previously discussed, big box stores are prime targets for commercial and industrial (C&I) solar developers and EPCs.

With thousands of big box retailers nationwide, each with massive rooftops and parking lots, a recent analysis found that the 21,363 big box stores in the Western US alone could generate a staggering 31,035,098 megawatt-hours (mWh) of estimated total annual energy output if they installed solar PV systems. That’s the equivalent of powering 3 million homes for a year!

These stores present a significant opportunity for C&I solar project developers and EPC firms to tap into a vast market for solar installations. And there are two new compelling reasons developers and EPCs can use to get retailers seriously considering going solar: the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) new climate disclosure rules and the potential for retailers to enable more equitable access to renewable energy.


SEC’s New Climate Disclosure Rules

The SEC's recently adopted disclosure rules mandate enhanced and standardized climate-related disclosures by public companies, including those about the financial effects and management of climate-related risks. These rules provide investors with consistent, comparable, and reliable information, thus increasing transparency and accountability in corporate reporting.

These disclosure requirements allow EPCs and project developers to position themselves as strategic partners aligned with the retailer's sustainability goals by highlighting the importance of climate-related risk management and the financial implications of renewable energy adoption. Moreover, the requirement for transparent reporting on climate-related targets or goals incentivizes retailers to invest in renewable energy solutions, such as solar installations, to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and resilience.

By installing solar systems, retailers can reduce their carbon footprint, mitigate risks associated with climate change, and comply with the SEC's disclosure requirements. This option is significant for retailers that want to demonstrate their sustainability efforts to customers.


Enabling More Equitable Renewable Energy Access

But it's not just about ticking boxes on government forms. Beyond the initial benefits of energy cost savings and the SEC’s new disclosure rules, EPCs and developers can help big box stores make renewable energy more equitable and reduce the high energy cost burdens for lower-income households.

Lower-income communities across the US have been much slower in adopting solar power than their affluent neighbors, even with available tax breaks and financial incentives. A recent Stanford study found that these communities have 38% less non-residential solar deployment than wealthier areas. However, the study shows how non-residential solar installations, like those on big box store rooftops, can help bridge the "solar equity gap" in disadvantaged communities. 

Here's the kicker: the researchers estimated that solar arrays on non-residential buildings larger than 1,000 square meters could meet at least 20% of annual residential electricity demand in 63% of disadvantaged communities. That's a big step in the right direction for promoting energy justice and resilience in these underserved areas.

These findings underscore the immense potential of leveraging big box store rooftops to promote energy equity and accelerate the deployment of clean, local energy resources in underserved communities through community subscriptions, microgrids, and leveraging economies of scale, tax incentives, and government funding. This would provide tangible benefits such as clean energy generation, increased resilience, and less pollution from fossil fuel plants.


Partnering with a Total Solar Solutions Provider for Project Success

As a leading solar PV module manufacturer and total solar solution provider, Trina Solar US is uniquely positioned to support C&I solar EPC firms and project developers in ensuring project success and quick payback for big box stores in several key ways:

  • High-efficiency, durable modules designed to maximize energy generation on large commercial rooftops. Higher efficiency modules can produce more power in the same footprint, improving the project economics. Our high-efficiency, durable Vertex N modules featuring TOPCon advanced technology are designed to maximize the energy generation potential of large commercial rooftops, ensuring optimal performance and quick payback for system owners. 

  • Comprehensive total solar solutions that go beyond just modules. A total solar solution bundles inverters, racking, and rail systems in a turnkey approach to streamline the design, procurement, and installation processes for EPCs, reducing costs and complexity.

  • Deep industry expertise to provide technical guidance and support throughout the project lifecycle. Experienced module manufacturers can help EPCs navigate challenges and optimize system performance.

  • Reliable supply and delivery of modules to project sites. Delays in module delivery can significantly impact project timelines and costs. Partnering with a manufacturer with a robust supply chain and logistics capabilities is crucial.

  • Bankable, long-term warranties. Investors and lenders require assurance that the modules will perform as expected over the project's lifetime. Tier 1 manufacturers like Trina Solar have strong financial backing and offer the warranties needed to secure financing.

  • Higher Power, Fewer Modules, Lower LCOE. Reducing the overall project cost is key to improving project economics and payback periods. The higher efficiency and lower degradation rates of TOPCon modules can significantly reduce the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for these projects, making solar more accessible and affordable for big box retailers and the surrounding communities. A total solar solution with high-powered and high-efficiency TOPCon PV modules can help EPCs deliver more affordable solar to big box retailers.


By partnering with Trina Solar US, EPCs and project developers can significantly increase their chances of delivering successful, profitable solar projects for big box stores. This partnership can help drive the adoption of solar on these large commercial rooftops and promote more equitable access to renewable energy.

Interested in learning more? Reach out to the C&I solar experts at Trina Solar US today!

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