IKEA to install solar panels on Houston store

A picture of Swedish furniture retailer Ikea in Germany.

IKEA plans to install solar panels on 10 additional stores, including the Houston location, by next summer, the company said today.

The iconic Swedish home furnishings retailer plans to install nearly 4,000 panels at the Houston store that will be able to generate more than 1.3 megawatts of energy, according to a company news release.

The company said the new panels will expand IKEA’s solar presence by 75 percent, and the installation could begin this month if it secures the necessary building permits in time. The panels should be working by this summer, the company said.

“IKEA believes we can be a good business while doing good business,” said Mike Ward, IKEA U.S. president, in a statement. “This investment extends our solar presence to the Southern U.S., further reducing our carbon footprint and the intensity of the electrical grid.”

The nine other stores getting pannels include two in Texas, in Frisco and Round Rock. IKEA has already installed solar panels at 12 stores in the United States, and the company is working on installing the panels at 11 other stores. The company did not disclose how much the program would cost.

IKEA has rolled out several green initiatives in the past few years.

Earlier this year, IKEA installed a geothermal heating system in Colorado to heat and cool the store. In Europe, the company has bought a 12 megawatt wind farm in Scotland, and it has also installed solar panels at several U.K. stores.

34 Comments

  1. Jeremiah Wall

    Kudos to IKEA! Though it is relevant to ask, what took you so long and why don’t more companies emulate your green initiatives.

    Maybe its time for us to think about sustainability!!

    #1
  2. Paul

    It would be nice if they would hook up their giant billboard to the solar panels. Maybe it would bring down its blinding, traffic-hazardous brightness to a more reasonable level.

    #2
  3. Jackalope

    Now if only their products were as “sustainable” as their stores. Every piece I’ve purchased from them has been cr@p and a waste of lumber.

    #3
  4. Alex

    More retailers who are doing well business-wise, should be doing this, and if they are generating more than they need, it should send some power back to the grid.

    #4
  5. traintrack

    what has happened with their interest in the dome???would be nice to have a forward thinking entity put it to use.

    #5
  6. Ivar

    I know where I-10 is… and I’m pretty sure that IKEA is not in Katy, and not all of that road is free if memory serves me.

    #6
  7. rrr

    IKEA sells mostly junk.

    #7
  8. Brian77008

    I love IKEA!! I bought a varmensteein and matching gookenfluugen last year and it still looks good!

    #8
  9. Avery Gordon

    Good for them. It’s about time, with their energy-conserving light fixtures. If my townhome complex would allow it, I’d have full solar on my unit, hands down.

    #9
  10. kztoy

    Your answer, Jeremiah, is that commercial solar energy installations have a terrible ROI (return on investment) so it’s not feasible to do them in and of themselves. Now, if you value the publicity that can be obtained from press releases touting your “sustainable” efforts, then it might be worthwhile. We know that IKEA is based in Europe, so they also have a different mindset over there…

    #10
  11. Texas Bob

    I wonder what the payoff-date on it is.

    Solar’s still really expensive, but I have a feeling IKEA is buying enough that the cost isn’t quite as high as it’d be for a homeowner.

    #11
  12. Just_A_Thought

    where are the heating panels made?

    #12
  13. Just_A_Thought

    Where are the heating panels made? Are they made in the US? Are the installers US Citizens?

    #13
  14. Paul S.

    kztoy, after about 10 or 15 years (maybe less), any company or individual should end up saving money by using solar panels, especially after tax credits. We need to be smart about how we build our infrastructure by putting up some sort of retractable cover on any home or business with solar panels in the event of a major storm. Considering how much solar panels have gone down in price over the years…along with the fact that solar energy STILL doesn’t account for 1% of U.S. energy consumption…along with all the baggage and costs that come with fossil fuels…it should be mandatory for our primary energy source to come from what nature provides us.

    #14
  15. Dan X. McGraw

    REC Solar is doing the work on the U.S. stores. The other stores are having their work done by an international company. I’m not sure where the solar panels are made or who the installers are.

    #15
  16. mispeller

    Just a drop in the bucket. The pollution the customers make travelling to the store is giant footprint. And the trucks that deliver the furniture are smog makers too. I goota say they do use a lot of recycled material. You can see it the quality of their goods.

    #16
  17. ddysphemism

    @ Just a thought…the panels will be coming from China. The Chinese gov’t heavily subsidized their solar panel companies driving down costs while other countries failed to do so or it was politically impractical compete with the Chinese gov’t's subsidy program (remember Solyndra?). So, the Chinese cornered the market.

    #17
  18. frank

    kztoy…I wonder if you did your math and actually calculated the ROI…it would be interesting to see what you consider a terrible ROI.
    I think on these blogs its funny how some people will automatically put the label of terrible ROI without doing their homework…It’s important to not regurgitate others remarks and actually have credible sources for one’s opinion.

    Texas Bob….You are right on, about scale of the project…The installation cost is one of the most expensive things. If PV only, to generate electricity then polycrystalline panels would be cheapest but least efficient at 10 to 15 % from UV ray to electricity…The Inverter/Conditioner is the most expensive part as far as parts…But like you said if you use economies of scale then the more panels you got on that inverter the better the payback…This article does not give too many details about the project so it is difficult to project the payback time…(PV type, Inverter type, Irradiation, cost to install, etc) the feds do give you a tax subsidies for the cost of the project but I think that goes for residences, not sure about commercial use, Also some states have further incentives or subsidies. Another thing to add is that in Europe they have ratified the Kyoto Protocal and have Cap and Trade systems. I am not sure the rules of that market but could be that IKEA could be doing some offesetting, this would require further research to know for sure….Also they could have installed thermal heating for solar to heat water and the building that could also have some payback…..It could work out as a good long-term project for them…IKEA would not be doing it if it was losing money long term…just like any other publicly traded company that is looking to maximize shareholder wealth.

    #18
  19. Brian S.

    Liberal company, I guess they will buy from Solyndra.

    #19
  20. BeingHonestRU

    Going green?
    I’m guessing that if they didn’t cut down so many trees to sell wooden tacky crap, that would leave a less carbon footprint.
    What a dopey store.

    #20
  21. dara

    The payoff currently for residential purposes is about 11 years. You can install a 4kwh system for $13,500 and after the federal tax credit you will pay about $9,500. This system will generate about 4kwh for 6 hours on average dailey. If you assume $0.10 per kwh then that is $2.40 per day……..so maybe you save $900 per year. 10-11 years. Of course if power price jumps up then you pay off earlier

    #21
  22. kztoy

    Paul
    Thanks for the comment. My company looks favorably at project ROIs of less than two years, my previous employer would only consider projects with an ROI of less than 6 months. On a personal level, we are evaluating solar for our new house. Even though solar panels are at possibly their lowest historic prices (see articles about Solyndra’s demise), we’re looking at ~15-20 years ROI. That’s if they last that long…and the company is still in business, etc. There are still a lot of unknowns for us.

    PS – Nature provided us with oil and gas too.

    #22
  23. Amynonymous

    Brian77008
    December 6, 2011, 11:51 AM

    I love IKEA!! I bought a varmensteein and matching gookenfluugen last year and it still looks good!

    OMG–I almost spit coffee on my keyboard!

    #23
  24. AvailableUserName

    “kztoy, after about 10 or 15 years (maybe less), any company or individual should end up saving money by using solar panels”

    Nope. The up front cost is so high that your cost per kwh is still higher than what you get through Centerpoint’s wires.

    #24
  25. MR

    Traintrack, the dome thing was a joke that they rolled out. They were not serious about snatching up the astrodome.

    #25
  26. MR

    I spent several years with ikea and was there during the tear-down of the old store/build-up of the new store and their roof space is massive, so massive they hired a chopper crew to air-lift all of the new a/c units to the roof. They would be morons for not putting in solar. I don’t know why they didn’t sooner. I quite liked their greener initiatives, like making you pay for plastic shopping bags. Once you get used to carrying your own reusable bag, hauling all of those silly plastic bags home really seems draconian if you ask me.

    #26
  27. kztoy

    Frank
    15 grand for a 4.2 kw array, summer monthly 10 years in home improvement, I consider that to be a bad investment. What are YOUR criteria?

    They’re mainly doing it for PR. Period.

    #27
  28. DR

    Screw going green!! This is just a bunch of crap. The earth is not going to dry up and go away tomorrow.

    #28
  29. kztoy

    Frank
    That post got screwed up (thanks Chron)
    summer monthly usage approx 2000 kwhr/mo, say 20,000 kwhr per year. 5% interest. Any home project ROI greater than 10 years is a bad one.

    #29
  30. kztoy

    I forgot to mention in my repost that there are no assurances that the solar company will still be in business, that their warranty/guarantees are worth the paper their written on, that each of the 18 microinverters on each panel will last that long, etc. These figures were provided to me by the solar company. Go do the math yourself.

    #30
  31. Jon

    It’s funny and a bit pathetic to see all the “oil and gas forever and nothing else ever” trolls come out in force to denounce anything, anyone, and any company that doesn’t toe the fossil fuels forever line. Why are these people so threatened that they find it necessary to denigrate Ikea about this initiative? I imagine it’s hereditary and that their grandparents were the ones moaning and groaning about horse-carriages a hundred years ago, and disparaging anyone who gave up their horse for a Model T. Some people just resist change at all cost. These same types seem to take it personally if someone buys a fuel-efficient car or heaven-forbid actually takes the time to recycle. Why? No one is forcing you to install solar panels, buy wind energy, drive a Prius, or to recycle your 2 tons of garbage every year, so get over yourselves. Afterall, no major changes on these matters will occur in the US until a gallon of gas costs $8/gal like it has in Europe since the 90′s. When the avg. American’s bottom line is severely affected by our collective refusal to use our resources more efficiently, all hell will break lose and these changes will come. Until then, relax; and keep on wasting, polluting, and burning it all away – the American Way.

    #31
  32. A guy

    They are either idiots who don’t know how to do basic accounting, or they are smart and gobbling up government subsidies to make these pieces of junk affordable while looking good to those who can’t do basic accounting.

    It’s that simple. Lifetime cost of solar panels are over $0.20/kwh. Even with the savings in transmission costs, you don’t ever get anywhere close to breaking even. The breakeven point is about 20 years in for a panel with an expected lifetime of 10 years.

    #32
  33. Paul S.

    Available UserName, not after tax credits and a decade or so. There are also other parts of the world where solar energy is being used on a mass-scale for cheaper than it would cost otherwise.

    *

    kztoy, if you’re going to do that, I would (again) highly recommend putting up some sort of cover in order to protect it from a major storm.

    P.S. – I’m “aware” that oil and gas are “natural,” too…I was kind of hoping that you would have “figured out” the whole “we don’t have to drill miles into the ground, refine, go into other parts of the world and/or do business with terrorist regimes, etc. in order to ‘obtain’ solar energy…and the ‘oh yeah…solar and wind don’t emit greenhouse gases, too’” thing. There are many indirect costs that are associated with fossil fuels, and we all know it. If done correctly, solar and wind are MUCH more environmentally and economically feasible than fossil fuels…especially in the long run.

    *

    A guy…that’s a bunch of crap. Who do you work for?

    #33
  34. A very smart move by IKEA.

    #34