The leading global furniture retailer Ikea has set aside 1.5 billion Euros, in an effort to get 70 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2015. It’s shooting for complete renewable energy sourcing by 2020. The retailer already has 43 megawatts of solar and 180 megawatts of wind power either operating or under construction.
In the U.S. Walmart has gained kudos from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) for its leading role as a generator of solar power, having 65 megawatts of installed capacity powering its stores. This stuff’s beginning to remind me of India and how the major corporations there generate their own power, albeit often using dirty resources like coal and petroleum sources. But companies like Walmart and Ikea are taking to the sustainability game with surprising zeal.
Ikea’s CEO Mikael Ohlsson told Bloomberg, “By producing as much renewable energy as we use through the system, we contribute to development in society and make ourselves even more competitive.” I still have a hard time believing that retailers will get that much of a branding bump from being known as sustainable businesses. But I think that it becomes a lot of little things adding up to the decision to source renewables. It’s a bit of branding improvement (good PR), some internal morale improvements for employees, a hedge against grid energy pricing (often coal or natural gas), and insurance against grid outages, which are seemingly more common in the developed world than one would think. Throw in cash rich business like Walmart and Ikea and sooner or later, you get to yes on renewable energy.