To the average consumer, IKEA is an inexpensive furniture and Swedish meatball haven but over the past 4 years IKEA has been making a much bigger name for itself in solar energy. Averaging about 300,000 square feet per store, IKEA is taking advantage of its unused rooftop space to harness solar energy. The international furniture store began its U.S. solar movement in 2010 at a store in Tempe, Arizona. In 2012, IKEA announced it would strive to implement solar energy on the roofs of 85% of its U.S. store locations. These goals aren’t surprising for IKEA, who is striving to be energy independent by 2020 through a variety of renewable energy sources. IKEA is coming very close to meeting its goals; 39 of their 44 U.S. stores have completed solar installation. All together these stores generate nearly 38 megawatts of energy. Unlike other retail giants who are also investing in solar, IKEA owns 100% of its renewable sources and has installed solar in more states than any other corporation. When asked about the store’s decision to invest in renewables like solar, IKEA USA CFO Rob Olson stated, “We [IKEA] are committed to renewable energy and to running our business in a way that minimizes our carbon emissions, not only because of the environmental impact, but also because it makes good financial sense.” IKEA plans to spend 1.8 million dollars on renewable energy sources through 2015.
IKEA isn’t alone in its solar energy investments. Other large retailers such as Walmart Stores, Inc., Kohl’s Department Stores, and Costco Wholesale have come to the realization that solar allows them to reduce their stores’ operation costs, permits more time to focus on the product, and advances the company’s bottom line. SEIA and Vote Solar’s 2012 report highlighting the top 20 companies by solar capacity found that the companies on the list installed at least 279 MW of solar. That is enough solar energy to power over 46,000 homes in America! More recently, the White House has begun to recognize the potential of solar energy within the private sector. To further fuel adoption, President Obama announced on April 17th that he will use his executive powers to call for more private business investment in the nation’s fastest growing renewable energy – solar. The White House hopes this executive order will make up for the lack of progress Congress has made on getting the private sector to commit to solar.
Click HERE for an infographic map of U.S. corporate solar projects.