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IKEA-Charlotte Now Operates (Partly) On Sunshine

Furniture giant IKEA has just installed 4,228 solar panels on the roof of its store in Charlotte. The panels are expected to generate up to half of the store's electricity. 

The sun's rays are being captured by rows of solar panels on top of IKEA's store in University City. They work quietly. From up here, the only sound is from traffic whizzing by on I-85. The panels absorb solar energy and send it down to the inverter and it is noisy.

The sunnier it is outside, the more energy is generated and the louder the whistling is from the inverter, which basically looks like a big white box located at the back of the IKEA store.

Brian Gott is a spokesman for IKEA-Charlotte.

"At some times of the year, when the sun is bright and we're using a lot of energy, we will generate approximately 50 percent, so about half of all the energy that we use will come from those solar panels," Gott says. 

The 122,000-square-foot PV array consists of a 1,015-kW system and will produce approximately 1,330,000 kWh of electricity each year. That will amount to hefty savings on IKEA's power bill, though Gott won't say how much. He does estimate it will take about eight years for IKEA to recoup its investment in the solar panels. 

IKEA now has solar installations atop 39 of its 44 buildings in the U.S.