Wal-Mart blows into wind power in a big way

Wal-Mart today said it will power up to 15% of its massive stores in Texas and other locations with 226 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of wind power. The power will come from wind farm being built by Duke Energy in Notrees, Texas. The site is expected to be producing electricity by April, 2009.

Duke said the Notrees project includes 55 Vestas turbines that operate 1.65 MWs each. A  second phase operates forty 1.5 MW General Electric turbines.

Wal-Mart said the wind farm power it is buying is energy equivalent of washing 108 million loads of laundry -- enough for every household in Austin, Texas to do laundry for a year.

Wal-Mart  has invested heavily in greening-up its stores. For example, most Wal-Mart stores use waste heat from refrigeration systems to heat domestic hot water for restrooms and kitchen areas. Nationwide, approximately 70% of the hot water needs for Wal-Mart Supercenters, Sam's Clubs and Neighborhood Markets are generated this way, saving enough energy to provide hot water for more than 30,000 U.S. homes per year, Wal-Mart says.

Earlier this year the company opened what it called it most energy efficient store ever - one that will use up to 45% less energy than its current Supercenters.

The building, in Las Vegas, is engineered specifically for the region's desert climate, Wal-Mart said. Specifically, the store has heat-soaking floors that will help cool the 210,000-square-foot store's interior and pipes that run through the concrete floors every six inches, Wal-Mart says.

Wal-Mart has a corporate goal of operating 100% of its stores on renewable energy.

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