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Feed-In Freenzy: British Taxpayers Subsidise IKEA

Bloomberg reports that the Ikea Group, the world’s biggest home-furnishings retailer, has bought a wind farm in Scotland and plans to install 39,000 solar panels on its U.K. stores “as part of a goal to get all of its energy from renewable sources”:

According to IKEA´s Chief Sustainability Officer Steve Howard ,the solar panels, totaling 2.1 megawatts, will be fitted on 10 stores, providing an average of 5 percent of each shop’s power.
By building up a renewables portfolio, Ikea is seeking to reduce its exposure to fluctuating energy prices, which cost the company 1.2 billion euros ($1.7 billion) to 1.5 billion euros a year, Howard said.
“The principle strategy is to match the direct energy consumption of the business with electricity production from renewable assets,” Howard said yesterday. “We can certainly see a point in time where renewables are likely to be the most cost-effective form of energy generation.”
The solar panels, which will cost “close to 4 million pounds” ($6.5 million) to fit, are made by China’s GS Solar Fujian Co., according to Howard.

“The direction of travel for us is 100 percent renewable,” Howard said, adding that no deadline has yet been set. “We’re likely to hit 70 to 80 percent by 2015. We’ve built up sufficient experience in the area to be more confident in the timeline, so we will set a timeline in the next few months.”

After all the beautiful talk about “100% renewable”, Howard almost by a slip of the tongue discloses the real reason for IKEA´s great interest in going “green”:
The company will also claim feed-in tariffs — or guaranteed prices paid for electricity from renewables — for the solar power it generates, Howard said.

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The Guardian explains, why IKEA and other companies have been busy installing solar panels lately:

The government’s new feed-in tariffs (Fits) have fuelled the boom, making photovoltaic panels an attractive investment as owners receive a steady income stream for the power they produce, as well as being able to use it to offset their energy bills.
However, the boom is in danger of faltering in the coming months as changes to the feed-in tariffs begin to bite. Larger solar farms or parks face sharp reductions in the subsidies available, after ministers decided to restrict most of the funding to smaller installations, such as households and small businesses.
The changes – coming into effect from 1 August – mean that large installations, of more than 50 kilowatt (kW) capacity – enough to cover a large field, around 20 houses or a typical school – will lose the higher rate of subsidy and be eligible only for a lower tariff that some developers say is not enough to make them economically viable. Projects completed before Monday will continue to qualify for the higher rate, at least until the next review, giving companies a massive incentive to build as quickly as possible.
Some companies have managed to gain a temporary reprieve, of sorts. A loophole in the regulations means that installations of more than 50kW connected before 1 August – which are eligible for the higher tariff – can be added to for up to a year afterwards, with the additional arrays also be eligible for the higher tariff, at least until the regulations can be amended. This has led to a rush of developers striving to complete as many 50kW projects as possible by next week, with a view to adding more panels at greater leisure after the Monday deadline.

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IKEA´s Swedish founder Ingvar Kamprad is famous for finding the cheapest producers for everything he buys. That´s what he and his subordinates are doing also in the U.K. with regard to energy. What counts is the fact that IKEA is more than pleased to see British taxpayers financing a considerable slice of the company´s energy costs. The sweet greenie talk by the company´s Chief Sustainability Officers is intended to create a “green” image, nothing else. That´s what Chief Sustainability Officers basically are paid for to do.

The New Nostradamus of the North, 31 July 2011