Ikea plans 470,000-square-foot solar rooftop in Joliet

JOLIET – The massive Ikea distribution center under construction in Joliet will be equipped with a solar energy system.

Ikea, the Swedish home furnishings retailer, announced this month that it will add a 470,545-square-foot solar array to the roof of the project being built in the Laraway Crossings Business Park.

“Installing Illinois’ largest rooftop array advances our vision of creating a better everyday life for the many,” Ikea U.S. President Lars Peterson stated in a news release announcing the solar rooftop.

Ikea includes solar arrays on the rooftops of its Bolingbrook and Schaumburg stores, and the Joliet project will be the largest such system in Illinois.

The solar panels will be on top of a 1.25-million-square-foot distribution center expected to open in spring 2018.

Ikea spokesman Joseph Roth said the size of the building has been tweaked since it was projected as 1.4 million square feet. But the building can be expanded, he said, and Ikea still plans to build a second twin building at the site, although a construction date has not been set.

The solar project in Joliet contributes to the company’s long-term energy goals, Roth said.

“We want to generate by 2020 more energy than we actually consume,” he said.

In Illinois, Ikea also owns a wind farm with 49 turbines in Hoopeston that produces power for general consumption. The company has 104 wind turbines in the U.S. and about 300 worldwide.

The company has installed 700,000 solar panels on buildings worldwide.

The solar panels to be installed in Joliet will be used to provide energy to that building, Roth said. Installation will begin in the spring.

The Joliet project will consist of 8,966 panels that will produce 3.4 million kilowatt hours of electricity, according to Ikea. The company said the solar panels will reduce the equivalent of nearly 2,400 tons of carbon dioxide, which is equal to the annual amount of electricity needed by 354 homes.

SoCore Energy, a wholly owned subsidiary of Edison International, has been selected to develop, design and install the Joliet power system.

Gray Construction is managing the construction of the Joliet distribution center, which is expected to employ 100 workers when it opens.

The Laraway Crossings Business Park is located at Route 53 and Laraway Road.