In 2019, the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) awarded the furniture company IKEA a grant to fund the installation of a 1.5 megawatt (MW) solar canopy and accompanying electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in the parking lot at its IKEA Baltimore, Maryland, store.

The solar installation reduced the store's energy bill by 57% between September and December 2020, according to initial results announced by the company. This project illustrates the important and innovative work Maryland is doing to decarbonize its building and transportation sectors, which is a key priority of the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

MEA leveraged funds from the DOE State Energy Program (SEP) to administer the Parking Lot Solar PV Canopy with EV Charger Grant Program (Solar Canopy Grant Program), a program that incentivizes the solar photovoltaic systems over parking lots and garages.

Through the program, MEA provided IKEA a $200,000 competitive grant using Maryland's Strategic Energy Investment Fund to facilitate the 1.5 MW solar canopy project. The program aims to drive down the initial costs associated with installing solar canopy systems and supporting EV infrastructure by requiring all projects to include at least four EV charging stations.

Since 2014, the Solar Canopy Program has added 86 EV charging stations and 20.5 MW of solar generation capacity to the state—enough to power more than 2,100 homes.

Baltimore solar canopy.
Solar parking canopies, installed through MEA's Solar Canopy Grant Program, and a rooftop solar array at the IKEA Baltimore location.
Photo courtesy of IKEA Baltimore.

This project is a prime example of how smart, sustainable clean energy infrastructure investments can generate widespread benefits for key stakeholders. The solar canopy installation reduced the IKEA Baltimore store's need for purchased energy by 84% between September and December of last year, which translated to a 57% drop in the store's energy bills. For shoppers, the solar canopy project provides EV charging access along with shade and weather protection for their cars.

For Maryland, the project helps the state achieve its goals for expanding renewable energy and EV infrastructure in a sustainable way. When the IKEA Baltimore project was completed, MEA Director Dr. Mary Beth Tung noted the benefits of the program's design:

Installation of solar canopies over existing parking lots provide a dual use for the land: parking and energy generation. Developing solar generation on parking infrastructure reduces energy losses in the transmission lines and reduces the need to develop solar on undeveloped or agricultural land.

IKEA expects to complete seven more solar installation projects in 2021 at stores in California as well as locally in College Park, Maryland, as part of its broad efforts to become climate positive by 2030. These eight projects, including the IKEA Baltimore installation, will collectively provide roughly 10.7 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of clean energy annually, which avoids as much as 7,586 tons of CO2 emissions per year. In the United States, IKEA currently owns 104 wind turbines, two geothermal properties, 240,784 solar panels, and 143 EV charging stations.

The Solar Canopy Grant Program highlights the benefits of the partnership between SEP and the MEA. DOE looks forward to continuing its support for MEA as it strives to build an equitable, clean energy economy that will create high-paying jobs and bring clean, affordable energy to all Marylanders.

DOE's State Energy Program provides funding and technical assistance to states, territories, and the District of Columbia to enhance energy security, advance state-led energy initiatives, and increase energy affordability. The State Energy Program emphasizes the state's role as the decision maker and administrator for program activities within the state that are tailored to their unique resources, delivery capacity, and energy goals.