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IKEA invests in Canadian wind project

CALGARY, Alberta, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Swedish retail giant IKEA has agreed to buy a wind farm project in Alberta from Mainstream Renewable Power Ltd.

The 20-turbine project, about 130 miles south of Calgary in Pincher Creek, is currently under construction by Mainstream.

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Neither company released the purchase price but Mainstream has valued the project's construction costs at $90 million, the Calgary Herald reported. Mainstream will operate the project, expected to come on stream in the fall of 2014.

IKEA said the facility's expected annual production of 161 gigawatt-hours of power is equivalent to the consumption of 32 IKEA stores or the average power consumption of 13,500 Canadian homes.

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"IKEA Canada's investment in renewable energy is a win-win-win," Kerri Molinaro, president of IKEA Canada, said in a release Thursday. "We are able to support the transition to a low-carbon future, reduce our energy and operating costs, and pass those benefits on to our customers by continuing to offer high quality home furnishings at low prices," Molinaro said.

The company said it has committed to own 157 wind turbines worldwide and already has invested in wind farms in seven European markets. The Alberta project will be its first wind farm in Canada. It is also the first entry into Canada for Mainstream, which develops and operates alternative energy projects on four continents.

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IKEA has installed more than 500,000 solar panels on its buildings in nine countries.

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"This wind farm in Alberta, along with existing solar installations at three of our Ontario stores, is a significant step to achieving IKEA's global ambition to be energy independent by 2020, producing more renewable energy than we consume," IKEA's Molinaro said.

Alberta Energy Minister Ken Hughes applauded IKEA's investment.

"The development of renewable energy has been and will continue to be important to a sustainable future for Alberta," he said.

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Alberta has more than 5,000 megawatts of untapped wind energy, says the Canadian Wind Energy Association. But it says the province needs to implement new policy steps to overcome the inability of developers to finance projects in its competitive energy system, the Globe and Mail reports.

Also on Thursday, Google announced a renewable energy deal: a partnership with global investment firm KKR to invest in six utility-scale solar facilities in California and Arizona. Google's share of investment in the projects, to be developed by Sharp Corp.'s Recurrent Energy, is approximately $80 million, the company said.

The Google-KKR projects have a combined capacity of 106 megawatts and will generate enough electricity to power more than 17,000 U.S. homes, Google said.

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