Growing Its Renewable Portfolio, IKEA East Palo Alto Plugs-in Fuel Cell System to Generate More Onsite Power at Store
IKEA, the world’s leading home furnishings retailer, today announced it has completed installation of its fifth biogas-powered fuel cell system in California – and in the country – at its East Palo Alto location in the San Francisco Bay Area. Furthering the Swedish retailer’s investment in fuel cell technology, this project complements the company’s focus on other renewable energies such as solar and wind. With the East Palo Alto fuel cell system installed, commissioned and operational, IKEA is on track to generate 1.5 MW in total of energy via fuel cells, supplementing onsite solar arrays atop all these stores.
“Plugging-in this fuel cell system is an exciting milestone that complements our existing rooftop solar array,” said Monica Varela, store manager. “Utilizing fuel cells will reduce our carbon footprint and help create an even more sustainable community here in the Bay Area.”
Slightly larger than the physical size of a commercial back-up generator, the 300-kw, biogas-powered project will produce approximately 2,630,452 kWh of electricity annually for the store, the equivalent of reducing 1,193 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) – equal to the emissions of 252 cars or to providing electricity for 176 homes yearly (calculating clean energy equivalents at www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies-calculator). Combined with the 302-kW solar array installed atop the store in 2011, the fuel cell project will help generate a majority of the store’s energy onsite.
For the design, development and installation of this fuel cell system, IKEA contracted with Sunnyvale-based Bloom Energy, a provider of breakthrough solid oxide fuel cell technology generating clean, highly-efficient on-site power.
Drawing from its Swedish heritage and respect of nature, IKEA strives to minimize its operations’ carbon emissions because reducing its environmental impact makes good business sense. IKEA evaluates locations for conservation opportunities, integrates innovative materials into product design, works to maintain sustainable resources, and flat-packs goods for efficient distribution. U.S. sustainable efforts include: recycling waste material; incorporating key measures into buildings with energy-efficient HVAC and lighting systems, recycled construction materials, warehouse skylights, and water-conserving restrooms; and operationally, no plastic bags in the check-out process, and selling only LED lighting. IKEA U.S. has installed electric vehicle charging stations at 16 stores and solar arrays at 90% of its locations, integrated two geothermal projects at two store locations and owns two wind farms. This investment in fuel cell technology reflects the company’s goal to be energy independent by 2020.
Located on 10.5 acres at US-101 and University Avenue, the 290,000-s.f. IKEA East Palo Alto opened August 2003 and employs approximately 300 coworkers. In addition to 10,000 exclusively designed items, IKEA East Palo Alto presents 50 different room-settings, three model home interiors, a supervised children’s play area, and a 250-seat restaurant serving Swedish specialties such as meatballs with lingonberries and salmon plates, as well as American dishes. Other family-friendly features include a Children’s IKEA area in the Showroom, baby care rooms, preferred parking and play areas throughout the store. IKEA installed a rooftop solar array and 3 electric vehicle charging stations at the store in 2011.
Since its 1943 founding in Sweden, IKEA has offered home furnishings of good design and function at affordable prices. There are currently more than 390 IKEA stores in 48 countries, including 43 in the U.S. IKEA has been ranked among “Best Companies to Work For” and, as further investment in its coworkers, has raised its own minimum wage twice in two years. IKEA incorporates sustainability into day-to-day business and supports initiatives that benefit children and the environment.