Ikea installs solar panels to generate own power
Swedish home furnishings retailer Ikea Wednesday debuted perhaps the largest commercial rooftop solar energy panel arrays in the state on its stores in Schaumburg and Bolingbrook.
The two suburban stores are among 25 that already have solar panels, generating enough kilowatt hours per year together to power about 200 homes. The company aims to install the panels in at least 39 of its 44 U.S. stores, distribution centers and offices as part of its global initiative to conserve energy, said Ikea spokesman Joseph Roth.
"The technology has come down enough in price and simplicity to become possible," Roth said. He declined to say how much the project cost at the two stores but each was in the "millions of dollars."
Besides company officials, a number of local officials and executives were on hand for the solar debut, including Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar, Illinois Solar Energy Association President Mark Burger, SoCore Energy President Pete Kadens and ComEd President & CEO Anne Pramaggiore.
The array atop Ikea in Bolingbrook is considered the largest distributed solar photovoltaic installation in Illinois as a generator-user that also is tied into the electrical grid. Ikea in Schaumburg now ranks as the second largest distributed solar photovoltaic installation in Illinois, behind only the Bolingbrook store, the company said of its research of other solar projects statewide.
Ikea owns and operates each of its solar PV energy systems atop its buildings, as opposed to a solar lease. The programs at the two stores together is expected to produce about 2,334,081 kilowatts per hour of electricity annually, the equivalent of reducing 1,610 tons of carbon dioxide, eliminating the emissions of 316 cars or powering 201 homes yearly, the company said.
"Solar panels help reduce the store's carbon footprint and allow us to improve what we do today for a better tomorrow," Ken Bodeen, the store manager in Schaumburg, said in a statement.
Roth added that customers likely won't notice a difference in store lighting.
"This solar installation is another example of how IKEA can build on our ongoing commitment to sustainability," Bolingbrook store manager Christof Stein said in a statement.
For the development, design and installation of these two stores' customized solar power systems, Ikea contracted with Chicago-based SoCore Energy, a developer of more than 65 commercial scale PV installations nationwide.
The panels were manufactured by SolarWorld, the largest and most experienced U.S. solar manufacturer for more than 35 years.