Swedish home-furnishings retailer Ikea will install solar energy panels on its 356,000-square-foot store in north Charlotte.
Ikea’s photovoltaic plans also include installations at the chain’s nine other properties in the South, including a distribution center in Savannah, Ga. All told, that’s about 45,360 panels with a solar generating capacity of 10.7 megawatts. The annual output of all the solar is estimated at 15.25 million kilowatt hours.
Work on the installations should begin by winter, with completion pegged for summer for all 10 locations.
Ikea says the investment represents the company’s long-term commitment to sustainability and its confidence in photovoltaic technology. The company has 10 solar energy systems in operations in the U.S. plus 11 more in the works. Once the 10 new installations are up and running, Ikea will have solar power across 75% of its locations. Its total generating capacity will be 26.8 megawatts.
The retailer will own and operate each of its systems, instead of entering into a rooftop-lease agreement with local energy utilities, such as the kind under way by Duke Energy .
The other Ikea locations targeted for solar installations are Houston, Frisco and Round Rock, Texas; Orlando, Tampa and Sunrise, Fla.; Woodbridge, Va.; and Atlanta.
The Ikea store in Charlotte opened in February 2009 on 25 acres and is one of the chain’s largest.
Ikea plans to install 4,214 panels covering 126,500 square feet. Those panels are expected to generate 1.33 million kilowatt hours per year. According to calculations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, that’s enough energy to power 114 homes. It also equates to reduced emissions from 180 cars (approximately 1,011 tons of carbon dioxide.)
Ikea has contracted with Gehrlicher Solar America Corp., part of Gehrlicher AG, for the installation at Charlotte, Savannah, Atlanta and Woodbridge. REC Solar will provide the work for the systems in Texas and Florida.
The privately owned retailer, founded in 1943, is based in Helsingborg, Sweden. Ikea has more than 330 stores in 40 countries, including 38 in the U.S.