IKEA has designs on a clean-energy future

IKEA to have electric vehicle chargers at all UK stores next month, and is on target for 100% renewable energy by 2020

IKEA may well be the most cleantech-focused retailer in the world. The company started its renewable energy push years ago, and today it has one of the most aggressive renewable energy targets in the world. Aside from renewables, the Swedish retail giant is also on a strong electric vehicle push.

Last week, the company announced that it would have electric vehicle charging points at all of its UK stores by the end of the year. It’s partnering with Nissan and Ecotricity on this electric vehicle (EV) charging station rollout. Ecotricity, a green electricity provider in the UK, will provide free electricity for the chargers to ensure that any EVs charged at IKEA will have only the cleanest electricity. This quick rollout will reportedly make IKEA the first major retailer to have EV charging stations at all of its UK retail locations.

Internally, IKEA is also trialling the Nissan Leaf as a possible addition to some of its corporate fleets.

On the renewable energy front, IKEA intends to not just buy renewable energy credits or CO2 offsets but actually produce as much electricity from renewable energy sources as it consumes by the year 2020. It is investing €3 billion into this effort. Announcements regarding new IKEA solar or wind farms pop up several times a year.

About one week ago, the yellow and blue giant known around the world announced that it had purchased a 46-megawatt wind farm in Alberta, Canada. The wind farm is projected to produce about 161 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity per year, more than twice as much electricity as IKEA Canada uses. Some more fun facts about the project, provided by IKEA, are that it will produce enough electricity to match:

  • 32 IKEA stores’ electricity consumption
  • 60 percent of IKEA Group electricity consumption in North America
  • Eight percent of IKEA Group electricity consumption worldwide
  • 13,500 average Canadian households’ electricity consumption

Beyond Canada, IKEA has invested in wind farms in Germany, France, the UK, Ireland, Poland, Sweden, and Denmark.

In the US, IKEA is a clear solar power leader. It ranks 5th amongst all brands for total solar power capacity, but it actually has the highest percentage of its rooftop space covered in solar panels.

One day before the wind power announcement noted above, IKEA announced that it would be home to the largest rooftop solar array in South Florida, keeping the company clear in the lead as Florida’s “largest non-utility solar owner.”

IKEA isn’t at 100% renewable energy yet, but it is getting there. “Globally, IKEA has committed to 157 wind turbines and has installed around 550,000 solar panels on its buildings, and in fiscal year 2013, IKEA produced enough renewable energy to match 37 percent of its consumption,” Kiley Kroh of Climate Progress writes.

And the story that a lot of people may miss is that this isn’t only an effort to reduce CO2 emissions and help the planet. Even if that is the focus, IKEA is well aware that investing in cheap wind and solar power can bring down its operating costs, and that investing in electric vehicle chargers can attract customers, and perhaps even encourage them to hang around a bit longer than they would otherwise. In other words, all of this makes good business sense for the company.

“We are able to support the transition to a low carbon future, reduce our energy and operating costs, and pass those benefits on to our customers by continuing to offer high quality home furnishings at low prices,” says said Kerri Molinaro, president of IKEA Canada — a “win-win-win.”

Back to the customer side of IKEA’s business, the company has just started selling solar panels at its UK stores.

If there’s a single retailer we should all look to as a model for cleantech and climate leadership, I think it’s IKEA. But if you think another company is at a similar or higher level, I’d love to read more about it, and see some evidence that competes with the above!

Editor’s note: This is a guest post written by Zachary Shahan, editor of CleanTechnica and Planetsave. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of ABB or its employees.

Image credit: OiMax under CC license via Flickr

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About the author

Zachary Shahan

I'm the director of the CleanTechnica and Planetsave news sites. I've been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and I've been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. I'm also the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity.
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