LIVE OAK — Nearly 5,000 solar panels stretched across the massive roof of the new San Antonio-area IKEA have just begun generating electricity for the store.
The 1.72-megawatt solar array, which can generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 280 homes, covers about 245,000 square feet of the roof. It went into service Friday, just days ahead of Earth Day, an annual international celebration to promote environmental protection.
Mary Murrieta, an IKEA loyalty manager, said the solar-powered system is the second largest in the San Antonio area.
Environmental sustainability is “something we believe in,” she said.
The San Antonio solar array is the 55th rooftop system IKEA has installed at its stores, contributing to more than 56 megawatts of generation across the U.S. IKEA also owns two wind farms, including one in Cameron County, and recently bought a forest in Alabama, she said.
Facility leader Brian Jeannette said the solar panels create direct-current electricity, which is routed to a series of electrical boxes that turns the power into alternating current for use by the store.
The system doesn’t currently include battery storage.
“We are set up for space when they figure out the best way to store it,” he said.
At times, the array is expected to produce surplus electricity, which will be sent to CPS Energy’s electrical grid. Other times, Jeannette said, the store will use CPS Energy to supplement the store’s demand. The photovoltaic system is designed to prioritize the solar power generated and only use power from the grid when necessary, he said.
The array sits atop a white rubber roof, which reflects sunlight — a design that reduces the demand for air conditioning in the store. Below that layer is about four inches of polyurethane foam that further prevents radiant heat from entering the building.
Among a number of other environmentally friendly additions to the store, IKEA installed three chargers in the parking lot for electric vehicles.
Josh Baugh covers environmental issues in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | email@example.com | Twitter: @jbaugh