In recent years, we've seen a number of large companies shift strategies to focus more on environmental stewardship. From tech companies such as Google and Microsoft to office supply companies such as Staples, everyone seems to be getting into the green scene. As the world slowly warms and carbon levels climb, many companies are jumping on board to reduce their impact. Check out some of the latest big-business investments in renewable energy.
Although the M&Ms manufacturer isn't a stranger to all colors, the company is seeing nothing but green. In May, Mars announced its plans to purchase enough renewable energy credits to completely power its U.S. operations. Through a partnership with Sumitomo Corporation of America, Mars will build a 200 megawatt wind farm in Lamesa, Texas.
Construction on the wind farm began in 2008 by Blanter Energy Inc., but it won't actively add power to the grid until 2015. Mars' 70 U.S. facilities won't run directly off of the wind energy. Instead, the renewable power will be added to the grid in Texas. Mars, which is paying $345 million for the project, gets credit for the renewable energy produced. These renewable energy credits essentially offset any energy used by the company.
The clean energy produced by the wind farm is enough to power 61,000 households or make 13 billion Snickers candy bars, according to Mars' website. This energy investment will go a long way toward the company's goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2040.
Ikea, which has made a number of environmentally friendly moves in the past couple of years, announced its first wind farm investment in April. The furniture retailer purchased a 98 megawatt wind farm in Hoopeston, Illinois. Although the wind farm may pale in comparison to Mar's giant purchase, it's more than enough to power all of Ikea's U.S. operations.
Like Mars' wind farm, the renewable electricity will be placed on the grid and Ikea will get credit for its investment. The company says the energy will power 165 percent of its 38 stores, five distribution centers, two service centers and single factory in the United States. From a global standpoint, the investment will cover about 18 percent of the electricity used by the entire Ikea Group worldwide.
Although this is Ikea's largest renewable energy investment, it's not the company's first clean energy asset and it won't be the last. In 2013, Ikea purchased or generated 1,425 gigawatt hours of renewable energy — enough to power 37 percent of its global facilities. Until 2015, the company plans to invest $2 billion in clean energy technologies, which will push Ikea much closer to its goal of operating on 100 percent renewable energy by 2020.