Jovana Mehandžić Đurđić: Free Charging of Electric Cars at IKEA

Mobility | Interview

Photo: Private archive

We have all heard of the Swedish giant IKEA – the world’s leading retail chain with a wide range of home decor products. The main concept of IKEA involves developing products that are characterized by good design, functionality, quality and sustainability at such affordable prices that a huge number of people can afford them.

This is also the company to which the sustainable development is one of the important aspects of running the business, and therefore has developed the IKEA Group Sustainability Strategy for making the change “People and Planet Positive”. In addition to this Strategy, IKEA has been applying the IWAY standard for years, which represents the company’s code of conduct in many areas such as working conditions, prevention of child labor and environmental conditions.

Following innovations in all fields, IKEA has installed two chargers for electric cars in its first department store in Serbia, whose opening we are eagerly awaiting. While we are waiting for IKEA to open their doors to numerous buyers, we have used the opportunity to talk with Jovana Mehandžić Đurđić, Regional Manager for Sustainability of IKEA for Southeast Europe, about the chargers, renewable energy sources that IKEA uses, company’s sustainability principles but also about their plans for further development.

EP: IKEA is the first department store in our country that installed chargers for electric vehicles. Do you believe that there will be enough drivers of electric cars and therefore greater need for chargers?

Jovana Mehandzic Djurdjic: Sustainability is one of the key development principles of IKEA and we are trying to have a positive impact on people and the planet. When we talk about chargers for electric vehicles, it means that we encourage and motivate our customers to come to IKEA department store by means of a transport that is sustainable or at least more sustainable than traditional ones. In Great Britain, for example, in the last five years, IKEA has partnered with “Ecotricity” and together they offer free charging for electric cars. We believe that such a strategic approach has contributed to the increased use of electric cars in Great Britain and thus to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Guided by this kind of examples, we believe that charging network and the increase of electric vehicles in Southeast Europe and thus in Serbia is still to come. Health and environment are important factors for the life quality of our customers, so IKEA offers them the opportunity to behave, as the company itself, more responsible to the world in which they live and in accordance with the principles of sustainable development. There will be a public transport line to the department store IKEA Belgrade East, so our customers will not have to use only their vehicles to come to our store.

 

EP: Can you tell us more about your chargers? How much does an hour of charging cost?

Jovana Mehandžić Đurđić: People will be able to charge their electric vehicles on two parking lots. Since the region of Southeast Europe is a relatively young market for the company IKEA, the department stores in Zagreb and Belgrade offer free charging of electric vehicles to our customers. We want to encourage people to turn to alternative energy sources to a greater extent, and this is just one of the activities in that direction. Globally, IKEA is considering installation of super-fast chargers, as well as Tesla’s chargers into each IKEA facility. Schneider Electric’s 22kW AC fast charger is installed in our department store in Belgrade. We believe that this is just the beginning, as the need grows, IKEA will adjust its capacities. Thus, for example, IKEA department store in Zagreb offers to charge of electric cars on eight parking lots IKEA is part of “Better Cotton Initiative” which means that the wood they use in production is certified and the origin is known. The goal is that by 2020, 100 % of wood they use, as well as paper and cardboard, comes from more sustainable and responsible source of energy. Today, IKEA is one of the biggest users of wood purchased in retail and with FSC certification (a guarantee that the wood comes to the end user by a strictly tracked chain – from wood through processing to production).

IKEA also takes particular care of reducing water consumption during the production process (e.g. during the production of cotton and textile dyeing) as well as in operational business. By 2020, IKEA has set to produce as much energy as they produce, and apparently, they are on the right way to achieve that, but not only through solar power plants on the roof but also by obtaining energy from wind parks that IKEA owns around the world. Also, they introduce numerous innovations in the field of circular economy, which involves converting waste into resources as well as prolonging the life of products. We encourage and motivate our customers to come to IKEA department store by means of transport that is sustainable or at least more sustainable than the traditional ones 66 In that sense, department store IKEA Belgrade East will use its own photovoltaic plant, that is solar panels of total installed power of 340 kWp, and on their installation, we cooperated with the company Strabag as well as domestic company MT-Komex. The efficiency of the panels is 15.4 percent and we believe that the use of solar energy will bring us sufficient savings in daily operation. EP Will the part of the produced energy for chargers come from RES? Will you sell the surplus of the produced energy or it is just for your own needs? When it comes to sustainability, each new department store that they build is characterized by state-of-art technological solutions, which is why their department store is among the most sustainable facilities in the region. The following innovations are applied in IKEA department stores in Belgrade and Zagreb: „Separation and management system for 23 waste fractions that reduce the amount of municipal waste to less than 10 percent, „Geothermal pumps for cooling and heating, „The use of rainwater for flushing toilets, „A modern building management system that optimizes resource consumption, Plant for purification of wastewater, „Solar panels on the roof and use of only LED lightning in the facilities that will significantly reduce the amount of electricity that we will need for everyday functioning. through four fast chargers of 22 kW AC, Etrel brand from Slovenia.

 

EP: What is IKEA’s expansion plan in the region and will you install chargers in all new department stores?

Jovana Mehandžić Đurđić: IKEA has an ambitious expansion plan in the region of Southeast Europe – it can easily be said that we are at the very beginning of growth in the four countries which that region includes (Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, and Romania). Department store in Belgrade is 400th globally, and by 2025 we will open 13 more department stores in Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, and Romania. We will continue to install chargers in each of our new department store that we build. We hope that by building this infrastructure we will draw attention to legislators to make this technology available to a higher number of people.

 

EP: IKEA is trying to be energy efficient and responsible to nature in every sense, so you have installed solar panels on the roof of your department store.

Jovana Mehandžić Đurđić: IKEA follows the values and the concept of its founder Ingvar Kamprad who grew up in Smaland, Sweden. Rocky landscape is dominant in Smaland, so its inhabitants have a reputation of being inventive since they use all raw materials in a thoughtful way and they do not recognize imperfect solutions. That spirit that also reflects the firm belief that no method is more efficient than a good example is incorporated into IKEA. In that sense, department store IKEA Belgrade East will use its own photovoltaic plant, that is solar panels of the total installed power of 340 kWp, and on their installation, we cooperated with the company Strabag as well as domestic company MT-Komex. The efficiency of the panels is 15.4 percent and we believe that the use of solar energy will bring us sufficient savings in daily operation.

EP: Will the part of the produced energy for chargers come from RES? Will you sell the surplus of the produced energy or it is just for your own needs?

Jovana Mehandžić Đurđić: Generally speaking, the solar power plant will supply part of our electricity consumption which is between 10 and 20 percent, depending on the season and the amount of solar energy. Chargers are definitely part of that system. The tender procedure, on our side, is still in process, so the answer to this question will soon be known.

EP: Does IKEA have eco vehicles in its fleet, such as electrical or hybrid?

Jovana Mehandžić Đurđić Internal policy and IKEA’s commitment is to use less and less traditional fuel. We support the use of advanced biofuels, since this resource is obtained from waste and in the next phase we will turn to electricity obtained from the green renewable energy source. IKEA actively promotes and encourages its employees and buyers to use more sustainable forms of transport and at the global level, we cooperate with our chain of suppliers and partners from industry in order to work together on innovations, ideas, and testing of the solutions in the field of transport and reduction of carbon footprint.

Prepared by: Nevena Đukić

IKEA is part of “Better Cotton Initiative” which means that the wood they use in production is certified and the origin is known. The goal is that by 2020, 100 % of wood they use, as well as paper and cardboard, comes from more sustainable and responsible source of energy. Today, IKEA is one of the biggest users of wood purchased in retail and with FSC certification (a guarantee that the wood comes to the end user by a strictly tracked chain – from wood through processing to production). IKEA also takes particular care of reducing water consumption during the production process (e.g. during the production of cotton and textile dyeing) as well as in operational business. By 2020, IKEA has set to produce as much energy as they produce, and apparently, they are on the right way to achieve that, but not only through solar power plants on the roof but also by obtaining energy from wind parks that IKEA owns around the world. Also, they introduce numerous innovations in the field of circular economy, which involves converting waste into resources as well as prolonging the life of products.

This interview was originally published in the eighth issue of the Energy Portal Bulletin, named ECOMOBILITY.