While Ikea’s newest rooftop solar installation in Sunrise, Fla. makes the Swedish furniture manufacturer and retailer the largest non-utility solar owner in the state, it also illustrates the company’s commitment to sustainability.
“We think it’s very significant,” said spokesman Joseph Roth. “Not many folks make the investment to purchase their own systems. We think it represents a significant commitment to solar electricity.”
Several business owners are entering power purchase agreements and installing solar photovoltaic panels on their rooftops throughout the country, but not many businesses are investing in systems they own outright.
The new rooftop solar array, which is a little bigger than 1 megawatt, will produce enough electricity to power 134 homes. It’s the third Ikea solar installation in Florida and the 35th in the country. There are another four installations in the planning stages, Roth said.
“By the time we are completed with our U.S. installations, it will put us at about 30 megawatts,” Roth said.
Ikea is not a solar developer, so 30 megawatts is a pretty big investment.
The investment is moving the company toward its goal of being 100 percent sustainable by 2020.
“We’re already 50 percent there,” Roth said. “So, I really believe it is possible. We definitely need to keep going.”
He said Ikea in the U.S. has progressed more quickly than the stores in other countries, mostly because the infrastructure was in place and the development was easier to do here than in less developed countries that didn’t have a strong existing solar industry.
In addition to solar photovoltaic installations, Ikea is pursuing geothermal installations where they make sense, Roth said. The Denver store has both solar PV and geothermal. A location near Kansas City could also have both, he said.
Some of Ikea’s earliest stores also have solar thermal hot water heaters for food service and the bathrooms.
While the Sunrise store has pushed Ikea past a threshold in the state, it’s just one among several more to come, Roth said.