Continuing as a leader among companies installing solar, Ikea recently revealed that it will install the largest rooftop solar system in the state of Tennessee at its new Memphis location, which is set to open in Fall 2016. The 1.5 megawatt (MW) array will cover a 250,675 square-foot with 4,424 solar panels. The system will produce roughly 2 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity annually.
The new system will be Ikea’s 44th solar rooftop in the United States. “We are excited about furthering our sustainability commitment with solar panels on the future Memphis store,” said Lars Peterrson, Ikea US president.
The global furniture company will own the system rather than use a power purchase agreement or lease to finance the system. It also will include a solar-power carport covering a portion of the approximate 800 parking spaces.
The rooftop array in Memphis will help Ikea reach its goal of becoming energy independent by 2020. To reach that the company will invest $2.5 billion in renewable energy across the world. Worldwide it’s already installed more than 700,000 solar panels and currently owns approximately 300 wind turbines, 104 of which are in the US.
A wide variety of businesses are investing in solar, but topping the list is Walmart, with 142 megawatts of photovoltaic panels installed at 348 locations. Mark Vanderhelm, vice president of energy for Walmart has talked of that company’s solar plans.“We believe in advancing solar deployment by pursuing projects that make business sense. In fact, in 2014 we committed to doubling the number of on-site solar energy projects at our US stores, Sam’s Clubs and distribution centers by 2020."
Still, the efforts of these companies are just a drop in the bucket as to what’s possible. Earlier this year Environment America released a report showing that box stores in the U.S. could host 62.3 gigawatts of solar power—that’s more than three times the total amount of solar power installed in the US. That report estimated that 102,000 stores in the US have 4.5 billion square feet of rooftop space ideal for solar power. Covering them with solar power would be enough to power more than 7 million homes across the U.S., and could save roughly $8.2 billion in stores’ electricity bills annually.