Good for IKEA that the company is not content with the size of its solar array at the Canton, Michigan store and will add 765 panels in order to produce 287,490 kWh more electricity each year. The entire system will generate 1,426,490 kWh of electricity each year from a renewable source that is also clean.
“We are thrilled at the opportunity to increase the amount of solar energy generated and used by this store. This is another example of the IKEA commitment to create a more sustainable life for communities where we operate,” said Matt Hunsicker, IKEA Canton store manager.
The store will generate enough electricity from its own solar power system to power about 135 homes. That’s right, IKEA stores own their solar power systems, they didn’t sign power purchase agreements with a third party installer and operator.
So they manage their own systems and in this case decided to expand. It might not sound important at all that one IKEA store in Canton, Michigan is expanding its solar power system, but it is in several ways.
Michigan gets about 54% of its electricity from coal, and another 28% or so from nuclear power.
Both of these energy forms are linked to some threat to human health. Solar power is not hazardous to human health. It also can be installed much more quickly than a coal or nuclear power plant can be built.
Michigan has very little solar power currently, so any successful examples must be of value there. One estimate put the state’s solar power potential at 3.5 GW, so it has a great potential for solar power expansion.
The number of solar jobs could increase markedly there if solar power increases.
The Renewable Portofolio Standard in Michigan is on the weak side with just 10% for 2015. Wind power is stronger there, so it might help to increase policy support for solar power.
There are technologists in Michigan interested in solar, even if legislative support is not strong, “Here in Michigan, we seem to be making the greatest gains on the wind-energy side with development of very, very large-scale wind generation facilities. Solar, not so much. We still struggle with solar, but it isn’t for a lack of know-how or technology,” said T. Arnold “Arn” Boezaart, director of the Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center.
So, the fact that IKEA forges ahead with solar power at some of its stores does make a difference. Particularly because the stores tend to be very popular so there is at least some chance the public can hear about solar power success. For some reason solar power successes don’t get mentioned much in the mainstream media, but there are many.
IKEA is already selling solar panels in the Netherlands, so maybe soon enough it will in stores like Canton, Michigan too.