IKEA Aims for 100% Renewable Energy

Swedish furniture manufacturer IKEA has released its 2011 Sustainability Report, which reaffirms the company’s status as a global leader in the increasingly important area of corporate sustainability.

The annual report further reveals the company’s commitment to its goal of eventually using 100% renewable energy to power its stores and offices.

From September 2010 to August 2011 IKEA set aside approximately $670 million to invest in renewable energy which includes installations that have both been brought into operation or will be completed in the next 1.5 years.

This will increase the company’s current renewable energy portfolio which boasts 69 wind turbines and 124 photovoltaic (PV) projects (40 operational and 84 approved). Over the course of 2011, IKEA made improvements to store equipment which resulted storewide energy efficiency increases of 4% saving, the company approximately $8.1 million.

The report’s other highlights include the completion of the company’s first geothermal project at a new store located in Denver, Colorado, and the installation of Electric Vehicle charging stations at eight store locations in the Western United States. However, the most significant highlight is the agressive growth of the company’s solar energy generation.

As part of a $150 million investment to cover 85% of IKEA US rooftops with PV solar systems, the company added 11 projects in 2011. When these projects are complete they will combine to generate 6,800 KW of electricity.

In a separate announcement, released just hours before the Sustainability Report, IKEA said it has plugged in its 15th solar energy project in the United States. REC Solar installed 4,984 solar panels atop IKEA’s 148,200 square foot store located in College Park, Maryland. The solar panels will combine to generate 1,196 KW of renewable energy.

IKEA has quickly been adding solar power to its stores across the U.S. Commercial rooftop solar installations are becoming increasingly popular with many companies opting for third party power purchase agreements. In this instance the company does not own or operate the solar system, but rather purchases the energy produced by the system.  Such a relationship avoids the upfront equipment and installation costs as well as  the ongoing maintenance costs.

However, IKEA, one of the most lucrative businesses on the planet, is not using this model — the retailing juggernaut owns and operates each of the systems installed on its buildings.

IKEA says it has 22 solar projects underway in the US which, when complete, will hoist the company’s solar energy portfolio to 30.8 MW.

Image Credit:  kimubert via Flickr

Original Article on Energy Boom

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