The well-known Swedish flat-pack furniture giant company Ikea is testing sales of panels in the British market “because it has the right combination of mid-level electricity prices and government-sponsored financial incentives that make investing in solar energy attractive to consumers,” according to the AP.
The price makes sense for anyone who will be powering their home by the system for seven years. Someone who owns a semi-detached home can buy a 3.36 kilowatt system for the equivalent of $9,200. A system of that size consists of 18 panels. That’s cheap compared to U.S. solar prices, which reached a low in Texas last month at $3.90 per watt — meaning a 3.36 kilowatt system would cost a bit over $13,000.
An Ikea solar panel would include the traditional in-store consult and design service, but there’s no attached instruction manual. The price also includes installation, maintenance, and energy monitoring after it’s installed.
In July, the Lakeside store east of London enjoyed a successful pilot program of selling one of the Hanergy-produced systems almost every day, and the Southhampton store will start selling them starting today. The rest of the Ikeas in Britain will be selling panels over the next 10 months. The average three-bedroom home would see their bills cut by up to 50 percent.
It’s easier for anyone in Britain to buy a solar panel system — residents can purchase a system with no up front cost and pay the government back eventually, and extra power generated by a system can be sold back to the grid.
IKEA Chief Sustainability Officer Steve Howard told AP that prices on solar panels have dropped enough in recent years so “it’s the right time to go for the consumers.”
Earlier this year, Ikea committed to doubling its investment in renewable energy by 2020, to $4 billion, and now has over 500,000 panels on top of stores worldwide. The company set a goal of using 70 percent clean energy by 2015 and 100 percent by 2020.
A solar array on a store in Houston, Texas made the chain the largest solar power owner in the state of Texas last year.
Investing in solar arrays have not hurt the company. Profits rose 8 percent last year.
Consumers have been able to purchase solar-powered lamps for years, but this is the first time full home-based panels have been available.
Ikea did not return a request to comment on when U.S. consumers might see solar panels in their stores at press time, though Howard said other countries may see panels in their stores “eventually.”