IKEA Group has committed to producing as much renewable energy as it consumes by 2020. Here, Steve Howard, Chief Sustainability Officer shares the next steps for the business in achieving this goal.
Why is IKEA Group going ‘100% renewable’?
“IKEA Group investments into wind and solar energy generation contribute to the shift to a low carbon economy, and from a business perspective, help to secure our future as we become energy independent.
“Electricity and energy are essentially just costs to your business, until you start generating your own when you can turn a cost into a profit center. Renewable energy is common sense energy – it’s a great thing for the Chief Financial Officer as well as the Chief Sustainability Officer.”
How did you decide on your goal?
“At IKEA we didn’t want to set a target for 2050; energy offers a fantastic opportunity to make progress fast, and we want to get this done in the next few years. So we’re all in for a complete business transformation and have put sustainability first in our strategy to 2020.”
What are your achievements so far?
“We’re actually already energy independent in the Nordic area, producing more energy than we consume, the same will be true in the US shortly. Worldwide we’ve deployed about €1.5 billion into renewable generation projects – we have committed to own and operate 327 wind turbines and have installed almost 700,000 solar panels on our stores and distribution centers.
“We’re also helping our customers to use renewable energy. IKEA can see that our customers really care about climate change, but they want easy, affordable solutions. So we changed our whole lighting range to LED and we’re selling solar panels in several countries too.”
What plans do you have for switching more of your electricity use to renewables?
“IKEA Group and the IKEA Foundation recently pledged a total of €1 billion for climate action. This included a new IKEA group commitment of €500 million for investment in wind energy and €100 million in solar energy in the next five years.
“Not only does producing our own electricity give us energy security, it creates innovative ways to deliver business benefits. Producing more than we consume increases the availability of renewable electricity for everyone.
“The remainder of the €1 billion is made up of a commitment from the IKEA Foundation to fund programmes for families and communities most impacted by climate change.”
What challenges and opportunities are you encountering?
“We’ve made really fast progress with renewable energy in some places where we have operations, but it has to be a place where you can make investments and where there is stable policy so it’s been a challenge in other countries. However we are in discussion with government partners in these regions to overcome the barriers.
“On the plus side our investments in new renewable energy projects have added long term value to the business and have allowed us to respond to the needs and expectations of our customers.”
Why do you think it is important for companies to play a role in accelerating demand for renewable electricity?
“Businesses have a vital role to play in unlocking the finance required to bring about a clean economy – with corporate innovation and investment we can decarbonize the power sector within a very short amount of time. Actions speak louder than words and well-known names can demonstrate the strong business case for going 100% renewable.”
Why do you think RE100 is a good initiative to join?
“IKEA Group played a big part in getting RE100 off the ground and leading by example, and we’re excited by the fast speed of change. New members are coming on board all the time and setting ambitious, broad time frames that are stimulating the market for the deployment of renewables. By joining the campaign, other like-minded businesses can help to show that going 100% renewable is simply good business sense.”