By Maura Forrest
April 17, 2014
Furniture giant Ikea bought its first U.S. wind farm last week, bringing the company one step closer to energy independence.
Hoopeston Wind Farm, south of Chicago, is Ikea’s largest renewable energy investment to date. When construction of the farm is finished next year, its 49 turbines will produce 98 megawatts of power.
The farm will generate roughly 65 per cent more electricity than the total consumed by all of Ikea’s U.S. facilities, which include 38 stores, five distribution centres, two service centres and a factory.
“We are committed to renewable energy and to running our business in a way that minimizes our carbon emissions,” said Rob Olson, chief financial officer of Ikea U.S., in an interview with SustainableBusiness.com.
The farm’s wind energy will not power Ikea stores directly – instead, the electricity will be sold on the open market. Ikea plans to recoup its energy costs and make a profit on the sale.
The decision is part of a longer-term plan to offset all of Ikea’s energy consumption with renewable power by 2020. Though the purchase is a first in the U.S., Ikea has already made major investments in green energy worldwide.
Ikea owns wind farms in nine countries. The company became the largest retail wind energy investor in Canada after it purchased a 46-megawatt wind farm in southern Alberta in November 2013. Ninety per cent of the company’s U.S. stores are equipped with solar panels.
Ikea is one of a number of major companies turning to renewables to meet their energy needs. Walmart plans to buy or create 7 billion kWh of renewable energy by 2020. Microsoft announced its purchase of a 110-megawatt wind project in Texas in late 2013. Facebook, Google, and Apple have also made significant investments in green energy.
The trend is not just about shrinking carbon footprints. Olson explained that investing in renewables makes “good financial sense.”
“We invest in our own renewable energy sources so that we can control our exposure to fluctuating electricity costs,” he said.
And the decision will likely pay off. Walmart, for instance, expects annual savings of $1 billion by the time it reaches its 2020 target.
Photo Credit: Tom