Ikea Group, the world's biggest furniture retailer, plans to double its investment in solar and wind installations and improve efficiency in its operations by 20 percent as part of its larger ambition to become energy independent by 2020.
The Swedish-based company outlined its energy independence goals Tuesday along with other initiatives, including plans to help consumers live more sustainably by selling more energy efficient products; converting all lighting to LED in its stores and factories; and using up to 85 percent less electricity.
Under the plan, Ikea will invest $1.8 billion in solar and wind power to produce at least 70 percent of the group's energy by 2015. The company plans to get all of its energy from renewable power sources by the end of the decade.
There's a purpose for Ikea's energy independence goals, that goes beyond its aim to be a better corporate citizen. Ikea's global operations require considerable energy. Any efforts to improve efficiency and shift more towards renewable power should help cut costs and shield it from spikes in fossil fuel prices, especially in countries in Europe, which already have high energy costs.
The so-called People & Planet Positive plan builds on the company's earlier sustainability efforts.
Renewable energy meets half of its global buildings' energy needs, Ikea said in its latest sustainability report. The company has solar panel installations on 40 Ikea buildings in seven countries and 60 wind turbines produced 152 gigawatt hours of power in 2011, the equivalent of around 12 percent of the electricity needed to run all Ikea stores and distribution centers.
In the U.S., Ikea has increased the number of solar installations to 34 stores and distribution centers, with five more underway. The company also has installed 33 electric vehicle charging stations at nine stores in the Western United States.
Earlier this month, Ikea said it would sell only LED bulbs and lamps, and not other less efficient forms of lighting, by 2016. The company also said at the time it would change more than one million light sources insider its stores and factories to LEDs. Ikea gave up selling incandescent lighting in 2010.
Photo: IKEA Group/ Screenshot of product developer James Futcher in IKEA Group video