Flat-pack furniture retailer Ikea is investing nearly £4 million on installing solar panels to rooftops of ten stores across the UK, in a move that is part of a wider company plan to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
The panels will turn sunlight into electricity, and will provide five per cent of each store’s energy needs on average, according to a statement released by the company this weekend.
Ikea aims to have the construction work completed by March 2012, and by that time the company plans for 31,000 sq m of roof space to be covered by solar panels, generating around 1,600,000 kWh per year.
The business’s Cardiff, Edmonton, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Southampton, Warrington, Wednesbury and Wembley outlets will benefit from the new solar technology.
Meanwhile in a further attempt to offset its carbon emissions and boost renewable energy usage, Ikea has purchased its first UK wind farm - in Huntly in northern Scotland - adding to the 67 other wind turbines owned by the group internationally.
Steve Howard, Chief Sustainability Officer at Ikea Group, said: “We believe that our wind farm and solar panel initiatives mark a major milestone in our ambition to source 100 per cent renewable energy.
“We aim for all Ikea UK buildings to be fitted with solar panels in the long-term. As well as reducing our impact on the environment, these initiatives come with a strong financial incentive as consuming less energy means we spend less money, which helps us lower the prices on our products.”
Ikea’s Scottish wind farm consists of seven turbines, each generating 1.75 MW, producing a combined 24.7 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year, which is the equivalent to the electricity consumption of five Ikea stores.
The acquisition of this site comes at a time of huge environmental focus for the retailer, exemplified by its use of geothermal heating & cooling systems, biomass boilers and improved insulation in its most recently constructed UK & Ireland stores in Coventry, Southampton and Dublin.
“As part of our global ‘Ikea Goes Renewable’ programme, we are committed to heavily investing in making Ikea buildings more energy efficient and use more renewable energy,” Howard added.
“Following a thorough audit of all our existing buildings in the UK, we have also created action plans for each, which includes retro-fit measures to improve energy efficiency.”
Ikea CEO Mikael Ohlsson recently confirmed in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that the company has plans to open three new stores in London, but imposed local requirements relating to traffic and infrastructure have stalled progress with the developments.
“We prefer to be further away from the city centre. But the permits are taking a lot of time,” he explained last month.
The home furnishings specialist saw total sales increase 7.7 per cent year-on-year in the 12 months to August 2010, while net profits were up 6.1 per cent over the same period.
Despite UK consumers cutting down their spending on big ticket items since the country moved out of recession at the start of last year, Ikea can be considered one of the retail success stories of the last 18 months.