Ikea started putting solar panels on the roofs of its stores, distribution centers, and other buildings in 2011 to help cut its carbon footprint, and now has 900,000 of its own panels. But the retailer has huge energy requirements and a goal to produce even more renewable energy than it uses—and to get a step closer to that goal, it’s just invested in two sprawling new solar farms. They are the company’s first off-site solar plants.
One solar farm, in Utah, will come into operation later this month and has 636,000 solar panels. Another plant, in Texas, will have 823,000 and is expected to begin running in January. Ikea has a 49% stake in the projects. The company previously invested in wind farms in Illinois and Texas, and it has installed geothermal energy projects at two of its stores, along with solar panels at a majority of the others.
By 2030, the company aims to be “climate positive,” meaning that it reduces more emissions that it produces throughout its value chain. At some stores, it now uses electric vehicles to make home deliveries; all stores will have this in place by 2025. It’s started selling solar panels to customers (it started with solar panel sales in the U.K. that were discontinued when government subsidies ended, but will begin selling panels again in Sweden this fall and will offer solar panels everywhere by 2025). It’s moving to renewable heating and cooling. And it’s rethinking its business model: If customers leased furniture instead of buying it, in a circular model, that would also dramatically lower Ikea’s carbon footprint. The majority of the company’s emissions come from raw materials, not the electricity powering its stores. “It’s fundamentally about changing the business model and having a completely different offering for our customers,” Pia Heidenmark Cook, chief sustainability officer for Ingka Group, told Fast Company in a previous interview.