Home furnishings giant IKEA is making the Detroit area a little greener with an expanded solar array atop its Canton, Michigan store.
This 311,000-square-foot location, which opened in June 2006, already boasts 4,160 solar panels that were installed in 2012, meaning the store houses Michigan’s largest solar array. Now, 765 more panels will be added atop a 44,000-square-foot expansion. “We had more rooftop space, so we did an analysis to determine if it would be productive to add more panels,” says Joseph Roth, who handles public affairs for IKEA.
The 40,000-square-foot solar addition will consist of a 240.9-kilowatt system that produces 287,490 kilowatt hours of additional annual electricity. In total, the old and new arrays will produce 1,426,490 kilowatt hours of electricity yearly—equivalent to eliminating the emissions of 207 cars or reducing 984 tons of carbon dioxide, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
South Bend, Indiana-based Inovateus Solar, LLC, which specializes in large-scale solar installations, selected the JA Solar brand for this installation. The monocrystalline modules, designed for commercial use, such as on solar farms, are extremely efficient—a necessity in the Detroit metro area, which is often affected by severe weather.
The Canton project is just a small part of IKEA’s pledge to solar. “It says how serious our commitment is to renewable energy, that even after having Michigan’s largest solar array, when we expanded the store; we expanded the array,” Roth says.
The company—which owns and operates all of its solar arrays, as opposed to a leasing or operating them under a power purchase agreement—has set a goal of total energy independence by 2020. To reach that target, IKEA installed more than 700,000 solar panels on buildings across the world. Close to 90% of its US locations utilize solar, with a total power generation goal of 40 megawatts. According to Roth, the solar arrays currently provide roughly 20 to 60% of a store’s total energy needs. The company also has two stores with geothermal systems, and has announced plans to purchase two wind farms in the US to date.
Installation of IKEA’s new Canton store solar array is scheduled for this spring, with completion by summer. In addition to bringing clean energy, it will manifest additional advantages, says Samantha England, who handles sales and development at Inovateus. “The benefit of projects such as these is not only supplying clean energy, but creating green jobs. And that’s particularly important in and Detroit.”