Many companies have recently pledged to become carbon neutral. But one, the international giant Ikea, is attempting to go further and become climate positive by 2030. That would mean that its entire operation would create a net environmental benefit by removing additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Its latest step is an innovative solar car park project that it hopes will be a model for the rest of the world.
Ikea recently put the finishing touches on the first of its solar car parks, in Baltimore, Md. The project, which it plans to extend to eight locations in the U.S., aims to reduce the amount of energy Ikea stores need to buy from the grid. The other sites include College Park, Md., and six locations in California: Burbank, Costa Mesa, East Palo Alto, Emeryville, San Diego and West Sacramento.
“Sustainability has always been embedded in IKEAs vision,” said Jennifer Keesson, sustainability manager of IKEA U.S. "Ultimately we want to create a better everyday life for people and we believe a better life is a healthier and a more sustainable one.”
Early results from Ikea's first solar park in Baltimore exceeded expectations, decreasing the amount of energy the Ikea branch needed to purchase by a whopping 84 percent between September and December. During sunnier months, its car park branches will often run entirely on the energy from the panels.
“In April 2021, IKEA Baltimore was able to utilize solar energy to run its operation at 100%,” said Mikko Kolkkanen, market manager at IKEA Baltimore.
When the project is complete, the eight car parks will provide roughly 10.7 gigawatt hours of yearly production — the equivalent of taking 1,644 cars off the road or planting more that 125,000 trees.
In addition to the rapidly expanding solar carport project, Ikea owns 104 wind turbines, two geothermal properties, 240,784 solar panels, and 143 electric vehicle charging stations spanning 51 properties. Ikea has also invested in forestry projects to ensure that its wood is coming from responsibly managed forests that do not contribute to deforestation. So far, it has invested more than $700 million toward its goal of being climate positive.