IKEA has announced it will spend €600 million over the next five years on wind power and solar power — €500 million for wind and €100 million for solar. Another €400 million will be spent on projects focused on reducing the impact of climate change.
The company’s chief sustainability officer made a bold prediction. “If every business and organisation did what we did, we would flip electricity generation into being renewable-based by 2020 or shortly thereafter,” explained Steve Howard.
IKEA has reported €28.7 billion in revenues for 2014, so one might assume it has plenty of funding for sustainability initiatives. Also, as it is already well known, IKEA has been investing in renewable energy for some time. The huge company has invested €1.5 billion in wind and solar power since 2009. 700,000 solar panels have been installed on its own buildings and the overall plan is to produce as much electricity as it consumes, all from renewable sources.
One of the most fascinating things about this situation is that IKEA is clearly not an environmental advocacy group — it is a business that exists to make profits, and it does. In a sense, one might argue that IKEA has done more to raise the profile of renewable energy than some advocacy nonprofits because it actually invests aggressively in solar and wind power and owns over 300 wind turbines, as just part of its many green efforts. As mentioned before, it has hundreds of thousands of solar panels and will purchase more soon.
IKEA also is a mainstream company with huge warehouses that are visited by droves of people every day, day after day — in countries around the world. So its public visibility is very high. It doesn’t raise awareness by publishing a lot of green advertising and running campaigns — it simply constructs renewable energy projects that have become publicly visible. Meanwhile, it runs an enormous and very profitable business.
One of the main criticisms of renewable energy has been that it supposedly “isn’t affordable,” but why would a business deliberately hurt itself by purchasing something that is not reasonably priced? IKEA is not doing that — by moving towards energy independence, it is going to save money in the long term. In some cases, its solar and wind power installations are already paid off via their generated savings and “adding cash to IKEA’s books.” Imagine, when it does eventually produce 100% of its electricity only from renewable sources, how much money will IKEA save by no longer paying any utility bills?
Image Credit: Holger Ellgaard, Wiki Commons
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