IKEA, sustainability-minded purveyor of home goods for hip urban hovels, has just made a positively huge leap forward in its commendable goal to produce just as much renewable energy as the total energy it consumes by 2020:

The retailer announced this morning that it has purchased Hoopeston Wind, an under-construction 98-megawatt wind energy project in Vermillion County, Ill. that, when completed, will boast the annual capacity (about 380 GWh) to produce enough juice for 34,000 average-sized American homes — or a whopping 10 percent of the company’s global energy needs.

In addition to being the first wind investment in the U.S. for IKEA, the Hoppeston Wind Farm will be the single largest global renewable energy investment that the company has made to date — an impressive feat for an international meatball-and-coffee table emporium that has aggressively/impressively pursued renewable energy projects for years now. Existing IKEA wind projects are in operation in Canada and a smattering of European countries including France, Denmark, Poland and the retailer's ancestral homeland of Sweden. Up until today’s announcement, IKEA's renewable energy initiatives in the U.S. have primarily revolved around topping its stores and distribution centers with solar arrays — 90 percent of IKEA stores in the U.S. have PV systems with a combined 38 MW of capacity.

The project, expected to be up and running in 2015, will be composed of 49 Vestas V100-2.0 MW wind turbines. The site, located about 110 miles south of Chicago near the agricultural outpost of Hoopeston (home to the Little Miss Sweetcorn Pageant!) will be fully owned by IKEA US and managed by Apex Clean Energy.

Said Rob Olson, Chief Financial Officer of IKEA US, as part of the big announcement:

We are committed to renewable energy and to running our business in a way that minimizes our carbon emissions, not only because of the environmental impact, but also because it makes good financial sense. We invest in our own renewable energy sources so that we can control our exposure to fluctuating electricity costs and continue providing great value to our customers.
In addition to providing 10 percent of IKEA’s global energy needs, the Hoopeston wind farm's annual energy generation, in terms of CO2 emissions reduction equivalents, is roughly the same as removing 55,000 cars from the road. It’s also enough energy to cover 165 percent of the electricity consumed by IKEA in the U.S. (38 stores in 20 states, five distribution centers, and a factory in Virginia) and 130 percent of total energy (electricity and heat) consumed by IKEA U.S. operations.

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