But the furniture retailer’s latest project is somewhat noteworthy:at 290 kilowatts (kW) in size, it’s the third largest solar energysystem of its kind in Burbank, California. (Costco and Warner Bros.studios are number one and number two.)
IKEA’s newest system comprises 1,260 solar panels and, according to store spokesperson Mary Ann Barroso, is expected to generate around421,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity in its first year — roughlyequivalent to the annual electricity needs of 37 homes.
Like most solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays, the Burbank system willgenerate most of its power during the hours of 9 am and 3 pm, whendemand for electricity is typically highest.
“The power is being produced at a time when the demand is highest,”said Jeanette Meyer of Burbank Water and Power, the area utility.
Somewhat ironically, last month IKEA released its annual sustainability report, which found that the company’s emissions of greenhouse gases increased in 2010 despite the push to on-site renewable energy:
C02 emissions increased by 30 percent between 2009 and2010, from 26.4 to 34.3 kg per cubic meter of products sold – thelargest annual increase in three years. The major reason, Ikea said, was that the share of its buildings’ energy coming from renewable sourcesdecreased during the year.
“When our supply agreements for grid electricity from renewablesources expired in major markets – Germany and France – they were notreplaced, as Ikea has decided not to pay premium prices for ‘green’ grid electricity,” the report said. “This is one of the reasons why Ikeainvests in alternative solutions, such as solar panel systems and windturbines.”
Once up and running, solar PV panels are a clean, emissions-free source of electricity.
In addition to the Burbank, California solar panel system — thecompany’s fourth in the U.S. — IKEA has plans to add solar installations at 40 buildings by the end of 2011. All told, the company is aiming tohave solar panels at around 150 stores and distributions centers acrossthe U.S., Canada, the U.K., Spain, Germany, Czech Republic, Belgium,Italy and France.