U.S. Solar Industry Makes Bright Future for Swedish Retailer

International furniture and home goods retailer Ikea has nearly completed its $723 million plan to invest in renewable energy efforts at its stores, including solar panels on roofs, geothermal heating, and even wind farm purchases near some locations. The company has been quickly installing solar panels on U.S. stores, and recently completed installations on two Chicago-area locations.

Ikea owns and operates the panels, rather than having a solar lease or power purchase agreement. The panels generate enough electricity to power more than half of a store, and almost the entire energy use by a typical, more than one-million-square-foot distribution center.

Ikea has more than 330 stores in 40 countries, including 39 stores and five distribution centers in the United States. The Chicago installations are the 24th and 25th solar roofs for the U.S. stores, with more completions planned by January and plans for more solar roofs in 2013. The company has more solar roofs in the United States than in other countries. It credits the U.S.’s advanced development of its solar industry for this.