October 9, 2010

IKEA and Wal-Mart going Green Energy

ENVIRONMENT - IKEA and Wal-Mart are both going green on the rooftops of their shopping centers across North America, but the difference is in how they are doing it.

In IKEA`s case they`re making a solid profit by generating electricity by installing 3,790 solar panels on the rooftops of IKEA stores in North York, Etobicoke and Vaughan. Altogether the 4,800 square meters of solar panels covers approx. 60% of a Canadian football field (Canadian football fields are bigger than American football fields) and will produce 960,000 kilowatt hours annually, enough for over 100 houses.

IKEA is being paid 71.3 cents per kilowatt hour, which means they pay off their investment faster and over time the price per kilowatt hour will drop until the province is paying a more reasonable rate.

For the province it means extra energy and for IKEA it means their store has an extra source of revenue and free electricity forever. Initially IKEA will get $684,000 in annual revenue from the investment of $4.6 million spent on the solar panels. As the price for the electricity will drop later as more and more companies get on the bandwagon eventually lots of buildings will have their own solar arrays and be putting electricity back into the grid.

Better yet, its cheaper to transmit electricity locally over short distances. Building power lines over long distances is expensive and the amount of electricity that is lost transmitting electricity over long distances is very wasteful.

IKEA is also planning to install geothermal units to make their stores cheaper to heat and cool.

IKEA says its solar installations are the biggest to be owned and operated by a commercial retailer in Canada.

But wait IKEA, you may not have that title for very long. Wal-Mart is also planning to get into the green energy business and as typical of the American goliath Wal-Mart wants to do in a big way.

Wal-Mart`s proposal right now is to build a wind turbine on top of its environmental demonstration store in Burlington. They still need approval from the Burlington Town Council, but if it goes ahead it could signal many more companies doing the same thing and Wal-Mart expanding that idea to put wind turbines on every store they own across North America... pending approval of course.

But the approval will likely get the go ahead because its on commercial land, not residential land or farms. Plus there is a 2nd turbine already being built nearby.

In this case the wind turbine is more for show than actual energy production. Burlington isn`t known for being particularly windy and the turbine will only be making about enough to power a couple houses.

Wal-Mart is also planning to get into the solar business and install geothermal in their stores to save money on heating and AC.

Just imagine is all the companies and corporations in North America realized the energy and money they could be saving by switching to green energy. People have no excuse not to explore their options.

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