Meatballs, Meet Mr. Sun

Meatballs, Meet Mr. Sun

Bloomington’s Ikea goes solar this summer.

Say “Ikea,” and Allen wrenches and meatballs come to mind. Very soon, the Sweden-based company hopes green energy is on that Pavlov’s list. This summer, solar energy panels will be installed on the exterior of the retailer’s Bloomington store.

“Our installation will be 142,000 square feet, and consist of a 1,136-kilowatt system built with approximately 4,834 panels,” says Brooke Nelson, a marketing specialist at the Bloomington IKEA.

Opened in 2004, the store sits on 15 acres, though hardly the sunniest acres of the global retailer’s array. “We expect it to generate 1,300,700 kilowatts annually, which is equal to offsetting 989 metric tons of CO2—removing 176 cars from the road or powering 112 homes.”

At first, electricity from the solar panels will only be used to power the store itself (natural gas will continue to be used for heating). However, Nelson notes, “We are connected to the local grid, so if the system produces more energy than we can use, we can arrange with Xcel Energy to return the excess to the grid. But at this time, all energy produced will power the store.”

Along with the Bloomington, four other IKEA stores (two in the Chicago area, one near Detroit, and the Pittsburgh store) are set to receive solar panels this spring and summer. After this work is completed, most of the company’s U.S. locations will have a solar energy presence. Ikea has hired Chicago-based commercial solar developer SoCore Energy to handle the installation at its Midwest locations.

“SoCore will likely use local subcontractors for some key factors of the installation,” says Nelson.