IKEA installs fourth biogas-powered fuel cell system

By IKEA | January 17, 2017

IKEA, the world’s leading home furnishings retailer, recently announced it has completed installation of its fourth biogas-powered fuel cell system, at its San Diego store. 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. IKEA already owns three fuel cell systems at stores in California, with one more planned. With the San Diego fuel cell system installed, commissioned and operational, IKEA is on track to generate—in total—1.5 MW 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 Jim Tilley, store manager. “Utilizing fuel cells will reduce our carbon footprint and help create an even more sustainable community here in San Diego.”

Slightly larger than the physical size of a commercial back-up generator, the 200-kw, biogas-powered project will produce approximately 1,665,101 kWh of electricity annually for the store, the equivalent of reducing 877 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2)—equal to the emissions of 185 cars or to providing electricity for 130 homes yearly (calculating clean energy equivalents at www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies-calculator). Combined with the 252-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 15 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 acres along I-8 between I-805 and I-15, the 198,000-s.f. IKEA San Diego opened in September 2000 and employs approximately 325 coworkers. In addition to 10,000 exclusively designed items, IKEA San Diego presents 32 different room-settings, a model home interior, a supervised children’s play area, and a 150-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.