IKEA’s wind-farm investment is a clean-tech ‘first for Ireland’ – IWEA

13 Aug 2013

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Image of a wind turbine taken in Cahersiveen, Co Kerry by the Irish photographer Keith Arkins. Cahersiveen, known in Gaeilge as Cathair Saidhbhín (Little Sadhbh's stone ringfort) was apparently where the first shots of the Fenian Rising were fired in 1867

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With the news that IKEA Ireland is investing in a new Irish wind farm that is being constructed in Co Leitrim at the minute, the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) has welcomed the Swedish-born furniture giant’s move, as part of its global drive to ‘green’ its operations. The Irish wind body’s chief executive Kenneth Matthews has described the IKEA investment as a “first” for Ireland in terms of industry capitalising on Ireland’s clean-tech prowess.

Here on Irish soil, the news broke yesterday that IKEA will be injecting money to buy a new Irish wind farm that is currently being constructed in Carrickeeny in north-west Leitrim.

Irish wind and solar pioneer Mainstream Renewable Power is behind the wind farm, which is expected to go live in 2014.

The Leitrim wind-farm site will comprise four turbines, which will have the combined capacity to produce 25GWh (gigawatt hours) annually – that would translate to generating the equivalent electricity to help power around 5,500 houses a year.

Some of the electricity generated via the wind turbines will be used to power IKEA’s Dublin and Belfast stores.

IKEA will sell electricity generated by the wind farm to Irish energy supply company Vayu. The latter will supply electricity to the furniture retailer’s Dublin and Belfast stores under a 15-year contract.

Mainstream, which is led by Eddie O’Connor, the founder of Airtricity, will operate the plant for its 20-year lifecycle.

It would appear that IKEA Ireland will become one of the first corporate businesses with a presence on the island of Ireland to operate a wind farm in such a manner.

Capitalising on Ireland’s wind energy resources as part of IKEA’s global clean-tech drive

IKEA

‘We’ve come a long way, but we’re still just warming up’ – Steve Howard, chief sustainability officer, IKEA Group. Watch YouTube video where Howard explains IKEA’s take on sustainability and greening its operation

The sustainability swerve by IKEA Ireland has been welcomed in Irish wind-energy circles, as the move is being viewed by some as capitalising on Ireland’s clean-tech prowess.

Coupled with this, the Irish operation of IKEA is also set to give a boost to the Swedish-born furniture giant’s sustainability ambitions, especially as the group plots its global wind-farm map.

That’s because IKEA has now committed to own and operate 137 wind farms in countries ranging from the UK, Germany, France, Poland, Denmark and Sweden – as well as Ireland.

Is the IKEA move a sustainability first for Ireland?

The IWEA has welcomed the IKEA announcement, with the national wind body’s director Matthews describing the company’s decision to invest directly in wind energy as a "first for Ireland".

He said the IKEA move highlights the "increasingly critical role" that access to clean, renewable energy is playing in future business and sustainability strategies of companies, particularly  multinationals.  

"The ready availability of renewable energy, and particularly wind power, will play an important role in any future foreign direct investment decision, and Ireland is perfectly positioned to take advantage," said Matthews.

Will we see more such investments in the renewables space from companies?

Now the IWEA expects to see more activity of this nature. This is because the wind body believes companies are starting to come around to the fact that we all have responsibility to commit to a more sustainable future.

This cleaner drive from industry can spur on what Matthews describes as a "more secure, affordable, stable renewable electricity source" to facilitate commercial success.

"IWEA welcomes the decisive proactive leadership taken by IKEA in Ireland and call son other companies to follow suit and place sustainability at the forefront of their business planning."

As for IKEA, the company has set aside €1.5bn for investments in renewable energy up to 2015.

IKEA’s global sustainability strategy is to produce as much renewable energy as it consumes by 2020.

Carmel was a long-time reporter with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com