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The Final Word by Chuck Swann
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Some industries have for so long felt pushed to clean up their activities that feeling pushed has come to seem normal to them. But perhaps pushing may be yielding to pulling. More and more industries, including such notables as pulp and papermaking, have begun to feel pulled toward environmental cleanliness because it is simply good for business. Instead of being merely dragged along in the environmental parade, they are stepping forward to become its leaders.

The Swedish retailer Ikea is a prime example of companies seeking to boost their renewable energy standings. Ikea is building what is expected to be the largest rooftop solar array in Illinois atop its new Midwest distribution center in Joliet. According to Ikea, it will comprise almost 9,000 panels spanning more than 470,000 square feet. It is expected to produce 3.4 million kilowatt hours of electricity each year to be consumed onsite at the facility.

This is not Ikea's first rooftop solar array in Illinois. Its two stores in the Chicago area also generate solar power onsite. And across the country, Ikea has solar arrays atop 90% of its locations, with a total installed generating capacity of 42 gigawatts. Ikea spokesperson Joseph Roth said, "Reflecting our Swedish heritage, Ikea has a strong commitment to protecting the environment and incorporating sustainability into our day-to-day operations wherever and whenever possible. As part of that we evaluate all new buildings for potential energy generation onsite, and that includes geothermal and solar."

For its part, Ikea aims to run on 100% renewable energy by 2020, and has pledged to invest $2.5 billion in renewable energy through the end of the decade. And as David J. Unger notes in Midwest Energy News, private businesses and institutions across the country have increased investments in renewables and smart grid technologies in recent years, and they are expected to continue to do so, even if federal clean-energy funding and tax credits are rolled back under the Trump administration.

Chuck Swann is Senior Editor of Paperitalo Publications.


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