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Ikea Plugs In More Fuel Cells


Ikea is expanding its renewable energy commitment with state-of-the-art fuel cell technology.

Based on the success of a pilot installation, the Swedish home furnishings retailer plans to install biogas-powered fuel cell systems at four stores in California.

A year ago, Ikea completed installation of a similar project at its location in Emeryville, Calif., one of the company’s two San Francisco-area stores. Consistent with the retailer’s focus on emerging energy technologies, it is the first Ikea in the world to convert biogas into electricity through a clean electrochemical process.

Slightly larger than the physical size of a commercial back-up generator, the 300-kW system operates on biogas and produces approximately 2,497,651 kWh of electricity annually for the store, the equivalent of reducing 1,304 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) — equal to the emissions of 249 cars or to providing electricity for 163 homes yearly. Combined with the solar energy system installed atop the store in 2011, these fuel cells will help generate more than a majority of the store’s energy on site.

Additional Locations: Ikea now plans to expand its fuel cell portfolio to 1.3 MW, with a system at its other San Francisco-area store (in East Palo Alto), as well as three stores in Southern California (Costa Mesa, Covina and San Diego). Pending permits, the fuel cells will be installed, commissioned and operational by fall 2016, complementing solar arrays already atop each of the four stores.

As it did for its initial installation in Emeryville, Ikea contracted Sunnyvale, California-based Bloom Energy for the design, development and installation of the planned systems.

“Fuel cells represent another way we can contribute to our goal of generating renewable energy equal to the amount of power we consume worldwide,” Ikea U.S. president Lars Petersson said.

Ikea’s investment in fuel cell technology reflects the company’s goal to be energy independent by 2020. It also complements Ikea’s other renewable programs in the U.S., which include a solar presence at nearly 90% of its locations, a geothermal heating and cooling system at two stores, and two wind farms totaling 104 turbines.

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