Getting Off the Grid: IKEA Leads the Way in Wind Energy

(3BL Media and Just Means)-The Windy City is about to get windier. And hopefully, less reliant on fossil fuels.  IKEA recently announced their purchase of Hoopeston Wind, a wind farm of 49 wind turbines near Hoopeston in Vermilion County, two hours south of Chicago.  The purchase is the first wind power investment IKEA has made in the USA and their largest renewable energy project ever.  And, it will put them off the power grid in the US. This is huge news.

 Hoopeston Wind Farm will be operational in 2015 and is part of their larger strategy to offset the company’s energy needs by 2020. The investment coincides with their plans for growth in the US, opening two new stores in 2014 and partnering with a US-based supplier.  Apex Clean Energy, a renewable energy company based in Virginia will lead the project.  They know the business and hold a portfolio of over $10 billion in solar and wind 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 Farm is expected to generate up to 380 GWh of renewable energy each year. What does this mean in real numbers? The energy produced by the turbines is equivalent to the energy used by 70 IKEA stores.  In fact, this wind farm will produce 1.5 times the amount of energy needed by IKEA's operations in the USA. This includes 38 of their mammoth stores, five distribution centers, two service centers and one factory.  Opening two, new stores this year will hardly put a dent in the excess. So what will they do with the surplus energy?

Offset? IKEA plans to sell the wind power on the open, energy market and recover their costs.

“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 Rob Olson, Chief Financial Officer of IKEA.

 It makes more than 'good' financial sense for the company. It makes other companies who aren't pursuing renewable energy options look like ancient, fossil fuel using dinosaurs. IKEA is moving full force off the grid. They will soon hold the number two spot for the largest solar owner and user in the US. The Hoopeston Wind Farm will completely offset their US operations and put them off the grid.

“It’s about taking care of the environment and living within our means,” Olson told the Chicago Tribune. "We invest in our own renewable energy sources so that we can control our exposure to fluctuating electricity costs and continue providing great value to our customers,” he said.

Well, Mr. Olson, keep leading the way so that the dinosaurs may be forced to follow.

Sources: IKEA Group, Chicago Tribune