Imagine standing on the roof of a factory. There’s a lot of empty space up there. It’s not a great spot for a person, but it is the perfect place for solar panels.

The rooftops of IKEA’s massive furniture stores are a bright example of how this empty space can be used to generate electricity. The Swedish retail giant has solar panels on top of 90 percent of its U.S. buildings.

Now, IKEA is installing a 470,000-square-foot solar array on its new midwestern distribution center. When it’s completed later this year, the solar rooftop will be the largest in the state of Illinois.

Roth: “So you can just imagine solar panels after solar panels as far as the eye can see.”

That’s IKEA spokesperson Joseph Roth. He says the clean energy generated at the site will keep roughly twenty-four hundred tons of carbon dioxide from polluting the air each year. To put that in perspective, that’s like taking five hundred cars off the road.

Roth: “It also is good for IKEA because from a business standpoint, it reduces our operating costs at that facility. We’ll be paying a lot less in electricity in the long run.”

It’s a model that could inspire others in the industrial sector to “raise the roof” for solar.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.

Daisy Simmons

Daisy Simmons is a freelance writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience in research-driven storytelling. In addition to contributing to Yale Climate Connections since early 2016, she also...