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Solar Energy in Indian Retail comes of age as Soaring Electricity Costs Bite the Bottomline

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Indian Retail Stores Go Solar

Solar arrays are soon going to be seen on major retail chain rooftops in India as high electricity costs have forced retail chain owners to radically change their energy consumption and production strategy. Electricity has become the 3rd largest cost for retailers in India as the Government has imposed a 12.5% service tax on electricity consumption. This is over and above the sharp rise in electricity rates for commercial customers in India. Shopper’s Stop which is one of the leading retailer in India is contemplating installing solar panels on 4 of its stores in India. Other retail chain are too installing energy efficiency devices and reducing water consumption through water harvesting. Note these initiatives are coming from the retail industry without any incentive from the government and is based on pure economics. Note we had earlier written that industrial customers in Maharashtra are already finding solar energy competitive compared to the grid power they have to buy. Now top commercial customers are coming to the same conclusion.

Solar is already present in a huge way in USA thanks to generous Government Subsidies

US based retail companies are already big users of solar power and big chains like Ikea , Wal Mart and Walgreens have already installed thousands of solar arrays on their stores. Wal Mart is planning to keep on increasing solar panels on its stores in the USA and will reach the 1000 mark in 2020. Other retailers like Ikea have even more aggressive targets planning to install solar panels in all their stores in some states. The success of solar energy in US retail is due to the following factors:

1) Retail Stores are big users of electricity and putting solar energy for self consumption makes a lot of sense

2) Big Stores have massive unused rooftop space which can be profitably be utilized

3) US Federal and State Governments have a number of incentives to boost rooftop solar plants

4) The Retailers have the added benefit of being seen as Green and Socially Responsible

5) Retailers manage to lock in a fixed electricity cost for 25 years at a time when electricity costs are increasing at a rapid rate.


On the roof of Shoppers Stop’s first department store in the suburbs of Mumbai, a green initiative is underway in the form of solar panels feeding power to the store. It’s not just a drive to go green but also an effort to offset the skyrocketing cost of power.The company is trying to rework power consumption as mall owners and retailers will have to pay 12.5% service tax on electricity with effect from July this year according to a recent government notification,” Govind Shrikhande, managing director at Shoppers Stop, says. “The difference between solar power cost and our power bill will be minimal after the new tax.” The country’s largest department store chain paid over Rs 70 crore on power bills last year.While Shoppers Stop plans to use solar power at its four stand-alone stores, many other retailers and mall owners are looking for ways to lower energy usage to limit the impact of the new tax.

NY Times

Walgreens, which has installed 134 solar systems across the country and has plans for many more, says its solar program stems from the brand’s connection to healthful living and a bottom-line desire to stabilize energy costs.

Led by the likes of Walmart, Costco and Kohl’s, commercial installations of solar power have increased sharply in recent months. More than 3,600 nonresidential systems were activated in the first half of 2012, bringing the number of individual solar electric systems to 24,000, the report said. Whether driven by brand identity or cost concerns, almost half of the top 20 commercial solar customers are major retailers like Bed Bath & Beyond and Staples.

Kohl’s, a department store chain, will have 150 solar locations by the end of this year, the company said. But it is also testing wind energy and plans to expand the number of electric vehicle charging stations at its stores. Walmart, which has 150 solar installations and plans to have 1,000 by 2020, is also experimenting with wind. It has put small wind turbines atop the lamp posts in some of its store parking lots, and it has installed a giant one-megawatt wind turbine at a distribution center in Red Bluff, Calif. The chain, which has an aggressive goal of eventually deriving all of its energy from renewable sources, is also drawing power from fuel cells in some locations, said Kim Saylors-Laster, vice president of energy for the company.

Read On GWI:

Solar Panels in India

Solar Power in India

Solar Panel Manufacturers.


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

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