Solar array in Perryville

Solar array in Perryville (Ikea photo / July 1, 2014)

Ikea has expanded the solar energy system at its Perryville distribution center, making it by far the largest rooftop array in the state.

The home furnishings retailer said Tuesday it began installing additional solar panels last fall to double the existing system's size. The 1.7 million-square-foot warehouse, built in 2002, employs about 550 workers and distributes inventory to many Ikea stores.

The 4.9 megawatt energy system, made up of nearly 26,000 panels, now generates more than 6 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year, the equivalent of eliminating the emissions of 896 cars or powering 591 homes annually. The distribution center will be able to mostly use its own energy.

"We are fortunate to have the roof spaces and corporate commitment to nearly double the energy being generated by this facility," Steffen Daab, distribution center manager, said in the company's announcement.

Inovateus Solar LLC, a solar power distributor that specializes in large-scale installations, completed the work for Ikea.

The retailer said it reached its goal last year of completing solar installations on nearly 90 percent of its U.S. buildings, systems it owns and operates as part of a $1.8 billion investment in renewable energy through 2015.

Other sustainable efforts include recycling waste and construction materials, constructing warehouse skylights and water-conserving restrooms and eliminating plastic bags from check outs. The retailer has electric vehicle charging stations at 13 of its stores.

Lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com