IKEA to go solar in China

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IKEA China signs deal with Hanergy for solar panels. Image: China Business Focus

IKEA Group is taking the idea of environmental friendliness to new levels as it plans to install solar photovoltaic panels on its Chinese rooftops. The move is part of its goal to merely rely on renewable energy to power its buildings.

On Wednesday, the Swedish home furniture supplier announced that it has signed a deal with Hanergy, a private Chinese producer of clean energy, who will contract the building upgrade.

The solar panels will be manufactured and installed by Hanergy over the next three years.

Once completed, the solar panels shall provide 10-15 percent of all electricity needed to run IKEA stores. In addition, the panels are set to cater to 100 percent of IKEA’s electricity needs in its distribution centers across China. The project will save around 6,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year, according to the Swedish company.

IKEA said it has made a long-term commitment to only use renewable energy to power its buildings. With the partnership a significant step towards reaching that goal, Steve Howard, IKEA’s Chief Sustainability Officer, said the group will also try to facilitate supply bases throughout China in order to “utilize an affordable and reliable supply of clean energy.”

More than half of the energy needed to power IKEA buildings around the world is currently coming from renewable sources – primarily based on solar and wind power. There are now over 250,000 solar panels installed on IKEA buildings and the company owns, as well as operates, around 80 wind turbines.

IKEA Group has allocated 470 million euros to renewable energy investments, including the solar project in China and others that will be set in motion over the next three years.

Its newest Chinese partner, Hanergy, has expressed their excitement over the deal. Li Hejun, Hanergy’s chairman, stated that the cooperation is set to promote the smart use of thin film solar technology as a reliable, clean and alternative source of energy.

“In the current context of high electricity demand, such initiatives have the potential to relieve pressure on the national grid, support our clients’ business and preserve the environment,” Li explained.

Aside from using renewable energy, IKEA is also continuing to use less energy by improving the efficiency of its stores. Over the last fiscal year, the store’s energy consumption was reduced by four percent, mainly through store equipment improvements – heating, ventilation, air conditioning systems and smarter use of commercial lighting.

These measures have helped IKEA save a total of 6.2 million euros over the course of one year, further demonstrating how sustainability improvements can deliver strong business benefits.

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