This is The Climate Win, the most positive sustainability news around the world every week.
Swedish home supply retailer IKEA announced that its Swedish customers can now purchase solar and wind power through a new service called STRÖMMA. The company is on a mission to become carbon positive by 2030. Customers will no longer need to have their own solar panels to power their homes sustainably.
This new offering adds to the IKEA renewable energy offerings, which already include solar panels and installation contracting for customers in over 10 markets globally. IKEA has not yet announced plans to sell solar panels or offer clean power via STRÖMMA in the United States, though it hopes to do so eventually.
“Today we offer smart and energy efficient products and services that contribute to prolonging the life of products, reducing waste, saving water, and eating more healthily, as well as reducing electricity usage. Providing solar and wind power at a low price to more people feels like the natural next step on our sustainability journey,” said Bojan Stupar, Sales Manager at IKEA Sweden, in a press release announcing the program.
STRÖMMA is Swedish for “flow.” This IKEA renewable energy program works like a combination utility company and solar panel provider, effectively bringing the entire process of going solar, or at least purchasing solar and wind power for the home, under one roof. Customers in countries including Sweden and the UK can buy solar panels and have them installed on their home. They can then use the app service to track usage and sell back excess power to the company, much like customers in parts of the United States can sell back excess solar power to their local utility.
Now, Swedish customers without solar can use the app to purchase solar and wind power for their home through Ingka Group, the largest operator of IKEA stores and warehouses worldwide. This service turns solar and wind power into a commodity purchasable as direct units and amounts, a major step forward from the “all or nothing” approach that many household customers in the majority of western countries have as their only option. In addition to helping customers reduce their carbon footprint at home, it works towards the company’s carbon positive goal by reducing the post-purchase footprint of their products, which the company estimates accounts for 20 percent of its total carbon footprint.
“We believe the future of energy is renewable and we want to make electricity from sustainable sources more accessible and affordable for all”, Jan Gardberg, New Retail Business Manager at Ingka Group, said in the release.
This concept would likely face immense pushback from utility companies in the United States, many of which already lobby against the practice of “net metering” that allows residential account holders to sell excess power back to the grid. But there’s still a major win for US residents to take away from STRÖMMA’s release on the other side of the Atlantic. The program will prove that buying solar and wind power through an app on their phone is possible. This opens up access to renewable energy to a wide range of people who cannot put solar panels on their homes — whether that be for financial reasons or because they live in high-density or covenant-controlled areas where it isn’t possible on their property. Customers who live in areas without enough regular sunshine to fully power their homes also stand to benefit.
It’s only a matter of time before visionary entrepreneurs and/or consultting firms working for major utilities bring the practice to the United States and other countries. Some major utilities in the US already offer an option for customers to purchase renewable energy credits. These programs, typically a small additional cost to the customer’s existing utility bill, invest that money in renewable energy infrastructure. A prime example of this is the Windsource program from Xcel Energy, which from 2003 until 2020 was available to customers in Minnesota, Colorado, and other states where Xcel operates. The program disbanded in Minnesota last year due to a significant drop in the price of wind power that made the additional cost unnecessary — which speaks well to the future of renewable energy and the technologies like STRÖMMA that distribute it.
More climate wins this week
A report from Quartz this week highlighted another country that could benefit big from sustainability developments in the coming years. The economy of India could grow $11 trillion by 2070 if the country can decarbonize and subsequently “export decarbonization to the world.” Basically, the country’s major industries, including retail, energy, and manufacturing, could lose massive financial input if the country fails to act, but stand to gain substantially if it does through exporting of the goods produced. Increasing consumer demand for sustainable products and sustainable tourism will amplify this.
Norwegian company Wind Catching Systems has designed a massive offshore floating wind farm that can power 80,000 homes, De Zeen reported. The Windcatcher, as it’s called, looks more like a giant Connect 4 board than a traditional wind turbine, but who cares — as long as it works.
And finally, a new thru-hike connecting Europe and Asia through the Caucasus Mountains is under construction. Its efforts seek to highlight the region’s beauty, amplify conservation efforts, and make for one epic trek. The best part: You can help make it happen.