Furnishings retailer IKEA is planning to increase its presence in the south of the US by installing PV solar panels on its nine stores and one distribution centre. Pending government permits, IKEA anticipates installation beginning this winter, with completion expected next summer.

Collectively, the nine stores and distribution centre will total 10.7MW of solar generating capacity with nearly 45,360 panels and a projected annual electricity output of 15,248,334kWh. IKEA will own and operate each of its solar PV energy systems atop its buildings, including its three Texas stores (Frisco, Houston and Round Rock), three Florida stores (Orlando, Sunrise and Tampa), three other stores (Atlanta and Charlotte and in Woodbridge, VA) and the IKEA distribution centre in Savannah, GA.

Out of 38 stores in the US, 12 have operational solar energy systems, with 11 more underway. Adding solar to 10 more locations increases the company’s solar presence to 75% of its US locations and a total solar generating capacity of approximately 26.8MW.

“IKEA believes we can be a good business while doing good business,” said Mike Ward, IKEA's US president. “This investment extends our solar presence to the Southern US, further reducing our carbon footprint and the intensity of the electrical grid.”

Globally, IKEA has made an attempt to address its environmental concerns looking for energy conservation opportunities, integrating innovative materials into product design, working with Global Forest Watch to maintain sustainable resources and flat-packing goods for efficient distribution. Specific US sustainable efforts include: recycling waste material, incorporating environmental measures into the construction of buildings, such as energy-efficient HVAC and lighting systems, recycled construction materials, skylights in warehouse areas and water conserving restrooms. Operationally, it has eliminated plastic bags, is phasing out the sale of incandescent light bulbs and facilitating recycling of customers’ compact fluorescent bulbs. IKEA is also installing electric vehicle charging stations at nine stores in the Western US.

For the six Florida and Texas stores, IKEA contracted with REC Solar, one of the largest US solar electric providers, with more than 7,000 systems built nationwide. For the four other locations, IKEA contracted with Gehrlicher Solar America, part of Gehrlicher, one of the world's 10 largest independent PV project developers and system integrators. Both contracted companies are currently implementing other solar PV programs for IKEA.