Ikea Buys Scottish Wind Farm, Plans 39,000 Solar Panels in U.K.

Ikea Buys Scottish Wind Farm
Workers are seen installing solar panels to the roof of an Ikea Group store. Source: Ikea Group via Bloomberg

Ikea Group, the world’s biggest home-furnishings retailer, bought a wind farm in Scotland and plans to install 39,000 solar panels on its U.K. stores as part of a goal to get all of its energy from renewable sources.

Ikea bought a 12.3-megawatt wind farm in Huntly, northeast Scotland, from Good Energies Capital Inc., Chief Sustainability Officer Steve Howard said in a phone interview. That’s enough to cover 30 percent of Ikea’s U.K. electricity use. The solar panels, totaling 2.1 megawatts, will be fitted on 10 stores, providing an average of 5 percent of each shop’s power, he said.

The Huntly purchase adds to wind farms the company already owns in Denmark, France and Germany. By building up a renewables portfolio, Ikea is seeking to reduce its exposure to fluctuating energy prices, which cost the company 1.2 billion euros ($1.7 billion) to 1.5 billion euros a year, Howard said.

“The principle strategy is to match the direct energy consumption of the business with electricity production from renewable assets,” Howard said yesterday. “We can certainly see a point in time where renewables are likely to be the most cost-effective form of energy generation.”

The solar panels, which will cost “close to 4 million pounds” ($6.5 million) to fit, are made by China’s GS Solar Fujian Co., according to Howard. Denmark’s Vestas Wind Systems A/S supplied the turbines for the wind farm, he said, declining to comment on the purchase price.

Renewables Certificates

Ikea isn’t carbon-neutral, and may sell so-called renewable obligation certificates earned by the wind farm, Howard said. Under the government’s renewables obligation, electricity suppliers are required to source an increasing portion of their power from alternative sources such as the wind and the sun, and must hold tradable certificates to show this.

The company will also claim feed-in tariffs -- or guaranteed prices paid for electricity from renewables -- for the solar power it generates, Howard said. Ikea now derives about 50 percent of its energy from renewables, including the green energy it buys, he said.

“The direction of travel for us is 100 percent renewable,” Howard said, adding that no deadline has yet been set. “We’re likely to hit 70 to 80 percent by 2015. We’ve built up sufficient experience in the area to be more confident in the timeline, so we will set a timeline in the next few months.”

Ikea now owns 67 wind turbines providing 127 megawatts of capacity, and is looking to add more British wind farms to its portfolio, Howard said.

“The wind turbines in the U.K. are a first step, and we’ll expand on that,” he said. “This is a message to developers out there that we’re looking for good projects in the right places, and we’re keen to diversify in terms of the regions.”

No one at Zug, Switzerland-based Good Energies Capital could be reached for comment.

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