Ikea surpasses renewable energy generation milestone after installing 920,000 solar panels

Pictured: Solar panels on an Ikea store in Sydney

The company revealed the achievement through its latest annual summary sustainability report, published today (28 January). The report charts progress against all of the aims Ikea set in 2018, when it first unveiled its “People and Planet Positive” strategy.

According to the report, Ikea generated renewable electricity equivalent to more than its annual energy consumption during 2020, through a mix of onsite arrays and power purchase agreements (PPAs) with offsite array developers.

On the former, Ikea’s global estate of warehouses and stores now plays host to more than 920,000 solar panels. On the latter, the company has secured stakes in – or full ownership of – a total of 547 wind turbines and two large-scale, offsite solar farms. New additions for 2020 included seven wind farms in Romania and an 80% stake in the two solar farms, which are both US-based.

Ikea does not count the power generated through its domestic solar offer towards its own climate goals. However, the report reveals that this offer has proven popular even amidst the challenges caused by Covid-19. It is now available in nine national markets and consumer data has revealed that the average household saves 400 annually on energy bills.

Overall, renewable generation was equivalent to 132% of Ikea’s consumption.

Ingka Group’s chief executive Jesper Brodin described 2020 as “a truly exceptional year, in so many ways” in his foreword to the sustainability report.

While highlighting the challenges the business faced as lockdown restrictions forced 75% of its stores globally to close at some point, he also pointed out the achievements in terms of environmental impact and social sustainability.

“As much as the pandemic has changed our lives, the climate crisis could have a much larger impact on people’s health and the economy,” Brodin wrote.

“We are entering the most important decade in the history of mankind and the world needs leadership and climate action. Actions speak louder than words and we will continue to act for a green recovery, to build back better and drive change when it comes to the challenges of inequality and resource scarcity.”

Resources, heat and finance 

Aside from renewable electricity, “People and Planet Positive” includes commitments to remove single-use plastic packaging and to switch to only renewable and recycled materials by 2030.

The latest report states that single-use plastic items have been removed from customer and co-worker restaurants, bistros and cafes worldwide. Alternatives include wooden cutlery and plates, bowls, cups and straws made using paper-based materials. While Ikea is better known for furniture than food, it is also a major restaurant chain, serving some 650 million diners annually pre-pandemic.

Company-wide figures for the proportion of recycled and responsibly-sourced materials are not detailed in the report, however. Ikea sees wood and textiles as major focus points for delivering this vision.

In September 2020, Ingka Group unveiled plans to spend at least €600m on sustainability-related initiatives within a 12-month period. Particular focus areas will be reducing the consumption of fossil fuels for heating in stores and warehouses, and assessing staff pensions to ensure providers share the company’s climate ambitions.

Sarah George

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