In a move where some assembly is required, furniture retailer IKEA US announced April 10 that it is making its first wind farm investment in the U.S. with the purchase of Hoopeston Wind in Hoopeston, Ill.
The 98-MW wind farm is the largest single IKEA Group renewable energy investment globally to date and will make a significant contribution to the company’s goal to generate as much renewable energy as the total energy it consumes by 2020. The project is currently being constructed by Apex Clean Energy and expected to be fully operational by the first half of 2015.
“The US has amazing wind and sun resources that will never run out. We are delighted to make this investment – it is great for jobs, great for energy security, and great for our business. Importantly, it’s great for the future of our climate,” said Steve Howard, Chief Sustainability Officer for IKEA Group.
The announcement was made by Rob Olson, Chief Financial Officer of IKEA US, at a business executive briefing by Climate Declaration signatories for members of the Bi-Cameral Task Force on Climate Change focusing on climate-related business impacts, strategies companies are using to lower their carbon footprints, and the policies needed to mitigate climate change and boost clean energy sources.
“We are committed to renewable energy and to running our business in a way that minimizes our carbon emissions, not only because of the environmental impact, but also because it makes good financial sense,” said Olson.
The wind farm purchase is also indicative of the IKEA commitment to growth in the United States. IKEA will open three new furniture stores in 2014 and 2015, and last month announced plans to expand its manufacturing partnership with a key US supplier.
Hoopeston Wind is expected to generate up to 380 GWh of renewable energy each year. The project will have 49 Vestas V100-2.0 MW wind turbines, located near Hoopeston in Vermilion County, Ill., about 110 miles south of Chicago.
Hoopeston Wind will be fully owned by the IKEA Group and managed by U.S.-based wind and solar developer Apex Clean Energy. Apex President Mark Goodwin said: “Wind energy has been the fastest growing source of new energy generation in the US, and the potential is only beginning to be tapped. This project with IKEA US is an opportunity for Apex to work with a new type of investor and partner to expand wind energy development in this country.”
Hoopeston Wind is the most recent in a series of renewable energy investments by the IKEA Group, which has now committed to own 206 wind turbines worldwide. This includes investments in wind farms in eight other countries to date: Canada, where it is now the largest retail wind energy investor; Denmark; France; Germany; Ireland; Poland; Sweden; and the United Kingdom.
IKEA Group has also installed 550,000 solar panels on its buildings in nine countries. In the U.S., these investments include solar installations completed on 90% of IKEA locations across 20 states, with a total of 165,000 solar panels providing 38 MW of installed capacity. Also, IKEA integrated a geothermal component into the heating and cooling system of the IKEA store in Centennial, Colo., with another geothermal project underway as part of a new Kansas City-area store slated to open in Fall 2014.
In 2013, the IKEA Group produced 1,425 GWh of energy from renewable sources, including wind and solar, equivalent to 37% of the company’s total energy needs. As part of its People & Planet Positive sustainability strategy, the company has allocated $2bn to invest in wind and solar until 2015 to get closer to its goal of producing 100% as much renewable energy as the total energy it consumes by 2020.
There are currently 305 IKEA Group stores in 26 countries. There are 38 IKEA stores in the U.S.
Apex Clean Energy is an independent renewable energy company based in Charlottesville, Va. Since its founding in 2009, Apex has become one of the fastest-growing companies in the industry. In December 2012, Apex completed the development and construction of the 300-MW Canadian Hills Wind project outside of Oklahoma City.