Long known for their green credentials and with stores all across the world, low cost Swedish furniture outlet IKEA have started selling solar panels in their stores much to the amazement of customers. The move comes despite recent cuts in incentives by the Government for solar subsidies that could seriously impact on take up across the UK.
The superstore will be introducing solar panels in three locations before they roll it out to all stores in the UK within the next 6 months. If you want to buy them at the moment, you’ll have to visit their outlets in Birmingham, Glasgow or Lakeside. The company has been trialling the idea for a couple of years now and seems to have decided to put more resources into this particular venture in the hope that their customers will decide to invest in a low power future.
This new product inclusion for their stores comes from the belief that, while subsidies have been slashed, home owners still have an appetite for solar and want to install it on their properties. The company cite the fact that there is still a Feed in Tariff which will provide an income (albeit a lot lower than before the start of the year) and this is much better than many saving plans currently in existence. Not only that you can benefit from lower electricity bills over the lifetime of the array.
Of course, installing solar is not cheap. If you are looking at putting up 10 panels, it’s going to cost the best part of £5,000 though prices have come down in recent years. IKEA have long been advocates of solar power and have had it installed on most of their stores including in the UK and the USA. They have been one of the leading lights where commercial ventures have been concerned and their success in producing their own electricity has prompted many other companies to follow suit.
Selling solar panels in store is one of their biggest gambles in recent times. To do this they have teamed up with SolarCentury. How it works is that IKEA will have a sales team available in each store and the panels will be installed by the solar company within a six-week period of signing a contract. IKEA did initially have a trial period with Chinese firm Hanenergy which suffered from a number of problems including being limited to just thin film technology.
According to Solar Century exec Susannah Wood:
“Together with IKEA we have designed an offer which makes solar simple for homeowners. We’ve blended IKEA’s retail expertise with our solar expertise to arrive at an offer which combines quality with great value for money.”
Whether the initiative works or not will depend on whether IKEA have got their facts right and if customers are really still looking for the opportunity to produce their own cheap electricity. The Feed in Tariff was a huge determining factor in take up before it was finally cut by the Tory government at the beginning of this year. IKEA will, of course, benefit from the fact that solar is a tried and tested technology and many people still have great faith in it. Just under £5,000 is still a large outlay considering a lot of competitors in the market are offering comparable, if not better offers. The price of PV is falling yet still, this is due to reducing manufacturing costs and market competition, so investing in solar will again become a more and more viable investment especially considering the low maintenance cost and the 25-year lifespan of each array.