Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Would You Like Some Solar With Your Swedish Meatballs?

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

Rope lines await shoppers ahead of the grand opening of the new Ikea this summer in Denver, which uses a geothermal heating system.

The blue-and-yellow Swedish furniture giant is going green. IKEA announced today plans to install solar panels on all of its stores in the South, including three in Texas.

The panels are expected to be installed by next summer, and combined will generate 10.7 megawatts, with the three Texas stores generating about half of that, or enough to power 434 homes for a year. The company also has solar installed at twelve other locations, with eleven others underway. Once these next ten stores have solar panels, the company will have a solar generating capacity of over twenty-six megawatts, which double the amount produced by the Blue Wing solar farm in San Antonio, the largest photovoltaic energy plant in the Texas.

Unlike other retailers who get solar power by purchasing credits from solar energy providers or leasing out their roof space, IKEA is taking the unique step of building and operating its own solar power resources. The company’s embrace of solar is helped by recent gains in efficiency and affordability in the solar industry. “It’s really only been in the past three years where the technology has gotten affordable or feasible to purchase solar outright,” says Joseph Roth, a spokesperson for IKEA.

How much of the stores’ energy will be provided by the solar panels? IKEA declined to answer exactly, saying they are a privately-owned company and can’t release that information. “It provides a significant amount,” says Roth, “but not necessarily all of it.” The company says it will result in major savings. If the panels ever end up producing more energy than the stores need, Roth says they’d be in a position to sell excess power back into the grid.

The company estimates it will take six months to install, inspect and permit the panels at its stores in Houston, Frisco and Round Rock. The Round Rock store, outside of Austin, may take longer, as its currently undergoing expansion. The company is contracting with REC Solar, a Norwegian company, to build and install the project.



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