By Bridget Goldschmidt from Progressive Grocer
Walmart Inc. and Schneider Electric have joined forces to provide increased access to renewable energy for the retailer’s U.S.-based suppliers. The Gigaton PPA (GPPA) Programme seeks to educate Walmart suppliers on renewable-energy purchases and encourage renewable-energy adoption by participating suppliers through aggregate power purchase agreements (PPA).
This initiative directly supports Walmart’s Project Gigaton, which aims to avoid 1 gigaton (1 billion metric tons) of carbon dioxide in Walmart’s global value chain by 2030. So far, more than 2300 suppliers in 50 countries are taking part in Project Gigaton. Suppliers have reported a collective 230 million metric tons of avoided emissions since 2017 – more than 20 % of the goal – via 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,” noted Zach Freeze, senior director, sustainability for Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart. “Through Schneider Electric’s work with our suppliers, the program aims to democratize access to renewable energy and accelerate its use with our supplier base.”
Although corporate renewable-energy procurement is increasing, the total number of companies doing so is still relatively low, with a little more than 100 unique companies taking part in the U.S. renewable-energy market since 2008, according to data from the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance Deal Tracker. Some of the issues involved in accessing renewable energy for smaller companies are a lack of size needed to approach the market individually, inadequate education on the particulars of renewable energy-transactions, and guidance on how to secure renewable energy.
The GPPA initiative was created to help surmount these obstacles, enabling more companies to learn about energy purchases, access renewable energy, lower emissions and boosting their ability to contribute to Project Gigaton. GPPA teaches participants about the renewable energy market, offering guidance on the projects and bringing together interested companies to contract for renewable energy as a group, leveraging its size to achieve an economy of scale. Walmart is the convening champion for the programme, inviting suppliers to join.
The retailer has partnered with Schneider Electric’s Energy & Sustainability Services (ESS) to run the program, employing Schneider’s NEO Network, a worldwide collaboration platform and community of 300-plus corporate renewable-energy purchasers and solution providers. Schneider’s team of renewable-energy experts will facilitate a multiphase education and project-selection process to further supplier progress toward making aggregated renewable-energy purchases. ESS is the largest global consultant on corporate-renewable purchasing, having advised companies, including Walmart, on more than 100 utility-scale PPA purchases for a total of more than 8000 megawatts of wind and solar power.
“It is our honour to work with Walmart on this revolutionary programme,” said Steve Wilhite, SVP of Schneider, whose U.S. headquarters is in Boston. “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.”
Walmart has set a goal to be powered 50 % by renewable energy by 2025; it now powers an estimated 29 % of its operations this way. The retailer and Schneider are also members of the Renewable Energy Buyer’s Alliance, a coalition that unites purchasers and suppliers of renewable energy to streamline the process of transitioning to cleaner energy sources.
Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart operates more than 11300 stores under 58 banners in 27 countries, and e-commerce websites, employing 2.2 million-plus associates worldwide. Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s list of the top food retailers in North America, while Walmart-owned Sam’s Club ranks No. 9 on the list.