This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

November 15, 2006

Wal-Mart Approves of LED Lights but Remains Unsure About Wind Power

Photo of flat roof covered with bubble-shaped clear skylights that contain complex equipment inside. A sloping roof in the background has a large dark blue rectangle on it.

The Wal-Mart store in Colorado includes innovative skylights with sun-tracking mirrors. Solar panels are barely visible on the roof in the background.
Credit: Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

After one year of operating two "experimental stores" in Colorado and Texas, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is sold on at least one energy technology: LED lights. The company has already concluded that the solid-state lights, which use light-emitting diodes (LEDs), "use less electricity, contribute less heat, and have a longer lifespan" than traditional lights. Although Wal-Mart has already been using LEDs for all its building-mounted exterior lit signs for the last two years, the company has now decided to integrate these lights into freezer cases in new Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores nationwide, beginning in January 2007. The benefits of LEDs are multiplied in freezer cases, where heat generated by lighting adds to the load on the freezers. Replacing freezer lights can also be a difficult and energy-consuming task, so the LEDs' longevity is also a benefit.

The company is much less certain about its wind turbines, which have suffered from mechanical problems. However, Wal-Mart hopes to correct the problems and will "continue with the plan to provide these and eventually other stores with renewable power." Wal-Mart is evaluating its two experimental stores for three years with help from DOE: the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is monitoring the Aurora, Colorado, store, while the Oak Ridge National Laboratory is monitoring the store in McKinney, Texas. See the Wal-Mart press release.