04/11/2014 03:31 pm ET Updated Apr 11, 2014

You Can't Buy Ikea's Newest Item In Stores, But It Just May Change The World

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Ikea just got one step closer to going off the grid.

The Swedish home goods giant, best known for its affordable and efficiently flat-packed furniture, announced Tuesday the purchase of a 98-megawatt wind farm in Hoopestown, Ill.

The farm, about 110 miles south of Chicago, marks the company's single-largest renewable energy investment to date.

“It’s about taking care of the environment and living within our means," Rob Olson, chief financial officer of Ikea U.S., told the Tribune Thursday.

The Hoopestown wind farm is currently under construction and expected to be up and running by the first part of 2015, the company said in a statement. Upon its completion, the farm is expected to generate up to 380 gigawatt hours of renewable energy a year, or the equivalent of taking 55,000 cars off the road annually. The company says the projected output represents the energy consumed by 70 Ikea stores or 18 percent of the electricity used by the Ikea Group worldwide.

“We are committed to renewable energy and to running our business in a way that minimizes our carbon emissions, not only because of the environmental impact, but also because it makes good financial sense,” Olson said according to the news release.

Terms of the deal weren't released, though the company said Charlottesville, Va.-based Apex Clean Energy will run the farm on Ikea's behalf.

Back in 2012, the company announced a roughly $2 billion stratedy to be energy independent by 2020.

Currently, Ikea owns wind farms in eight other countries including Canada, Denmark, France, Germany and Sweden. The company also boasts sizeable solar energy investments with 90 percent of its U.S. stores generating solar power, Forbes reports.

Other big energy-consuming corporations like Wal-Mart, Intel, Whole Foods, Khol's and Google have already invested heavily in wind power and other renewable energy sources.

Greg Hasevlat, a sustainability research analyst at Pax World Management LLC, told the Tribune beyond corporate responsibility, the investments are way to maintain some stability despite volatile and ever-fluctuating fossil fuel costs.

“All those stores in aggregate consume a lot of electricity,’’ Hasevlat said. “These are not small investments, these are long term business decisions.”



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