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Environment
February 17, 2021

Here comes the sun: Wells Fargo to install solar panels at nearly 100 retail and corporate locations

Through a combination of rooftop, carport, and ground-mount systems, Wells Fargo will bring clean, solar-powered energy to multiple locations in seven states.

A man wearing a hard hat and safety vest kneels down to work on a rooftop solar panel.
Environment
February 17, 2021

Here comes the sun: Wells Fargo to install solar panels at nearly 100 retail and corporate locations

Through a combination of rooftop, carport, and ground-mount systems, Wells Fargo will bring clean, solar-powered energy to multiple locations in seven states.

With the cost of solar energy continuing to fall — and the price of not addressing climate change continuing to rise — Wells Fargo is significantly ramping up its use of the sun-powered technology at corporate and retail locations across the U.S. The company will install a combination of rooftop, carport, and ground-mount solar generation systems at nearly 100 retail and corporate locations in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Iowa, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Texas. Construction will begin this spring and continue through 2022.

Collectively, these systems will generate about 45,000-megawatt hours, or MWh, annually. For perspective, this clean-energy generation is the equivalent of removing the greenhouse gas emission created by the consumption of 73,663 barrels of oil — or 3,580,151 gallons of gasoline — or 35,057,749 pounds of burned coal. Or, charging more than 4 billion smartphones.

“Wells Fargo aims to meet its energy goals in a way that curbs climate change,” said Nate Hurst, head of Social Impact and Sustainability for Wells Fargo. “We believe you can protect the planet and grow the economy at the same time. By significantly expanding our on-site solar generation, we are delivering impact at the local level and helping to accelerate a just transition to a low-carbon future.”

The new solar systems range in size from a six-kilowatt rooftop solar array on a branch in Connecticut to the 6.5-megawatt carport and rooftop system at Wells Fargo’s Chandler, Arizona, campus. Other larger projects include a 5.5-megawatt combination rooftop/ground-mount system in San Antonio, Texas, and a nearly two-megawatt ground-mount system adjacent to the Wells Fargo campus in Des Moines, Iowa. The Des Moines project also includes development of a 6-acre pollinator garden.

Construction of all of the announced solar installations will be managed by Ameresco, a leading independent provider of comprehensive energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions for facilities.

An infographic states: Wells Fargo’s nearly 100 on-site solar installations (45,000 megawatt hours (MWh) annually), equivalent to removing the greenhouse gas emissions created by the consumption of… 73,663 barrels of oil; 3,580,151, gallons of gasoline; [and] 35,057,749 pounds of burned coal.

Investing in a low-carbon, low-cost future

Wells Fargo’s first foray with solar technology dates back more than 40 years, when, in 1979, the company installed a solar-powered heating and cooling system at a branch in Culver City, California. The system used an array of 840 square feet of solar panels to heat water in copper tubes, which in turn regulated the building’s temperature.

In December 2009, Wells Fargo began its solar journey in earnest when the company installed on-site solar arrays at 11 locations in Colorado. In the decade that followed, additional sites were added in California and Florida, bringing the current total to 16 locations. The announcement of nearly 100 new solar projects represents a significant step in the company’s development of on-site solar energy generation. The power created by these projects will replace power that Wells Fargo is paying for with a cleaner alternative.

“As we’ve analyzed how to expand our use of solar at Wells Fargo locations, we’ve been keenly focused on investing in net-new sources of renewable energy in locations where our energy usage and needs are the greatest,” said Richard Henderson, head of Wells Fargo Corporate Properties. “We’ve also watched the price of solar energy generation fall considerably from the time of our first installations in 2009 — showcasing the dual benefits of clean energy to both our company’s bottom line and in reducing carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels as a step to slowing climate change.”’

A computer-generated image shows the planned rooftop solar panels.
A computer-generated image shows the planned carport solar panels.
A Wells Fargo ATM is powered by a large solar panel adjacent to it.
A computer-generated image shows the planned rooftop solar panels.
A computer-generated image shows a large cluster of ground-mounted solar panels. In the bottom right, an image shows the flowers in a planned pollinator garden.

A rendering of the planned solar rooftop and carport system at Wells Fargo’s Chandler, Arizona, campus.
Photo: Ameresco

Along with rooftop solar arrays, large carport solar panels at the Chandler campus will combine to generate 6.5-megawatts of energy annually.
Photo: Ameresco

Over the past dozen years, Wells Fargo has experimented with onsite solar installations at both corporate facilities and ATMs.

A rendering of the planned 1.3-megawatt rooftop system at Wells Fargo’s Customer Information Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Photo: Ameresco

A rendering of the nearly two-megawatt ground-mount system adjacent to the Wells Fargo campus in Des Moines, Iowa, which will also include development of a 6-acre pollinator garden.
Photo: Ameresco

In fact, according to a recent report from Our World in Data, electricity generated from utility-scale solar arrays in 2009 had a cost of $359 per MWh; however, within just one decade, that price declined by 89%. The report credits this cost reduction to the “learning curve” that solar and other renewable energy technologies follow — in which, “each doubling of their installed capacity leads to the same decline of costs.” According to the report, “it is extremely rare to find technologies of this kind.”

“As the trends in solar pricing show us, Wells Fargo’s investment and adoption can in itself continue to help bring the cost of the technology down,” said Henderson, “which can then lead to more accessibility to renewable energy for businesses and communities around the world.”

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