IKEA will sell solar panels in UK stores

IKEA will sell solar panels in UK stores

Ikea image courtesy of Ikea.

Ikea has chosen Britain to launch a new service. In addition to selling furniture and housewares, it plans to sell solar systems at all 17 of its U.K. stores within a year.

A pilot at a store near London sold a solar system almost every single day.

Britain's solar market "has the right combination of mid-level electricity prices and government-sponsored financial incentives that make investing in solar energy attractive to consumers," Steve Howard, IKEA's chief sustainability officer, told the Associated Press.

In Britain, homeowners can buy a solar systems without upfront costs -- they can get a loan from the government and get paid for sending excess energy to the grid.

Prices have dropped to the point where the payback period is just seven years, he says, and an average family will save 50 percent on their utility bill. It costs $9,200 for a 3.36 kilowatt system in the U.K., compared to $13,000 in the U.S.  

Ikea's installation partner is China-based Hanergy Solar, which also provides ongoing maintenance and energy monitoring.

In the U.S., Home Depot and Lowe's sell solar systems. Ikea hasn't decided if it will sell systems in the U.S. -- they'll decide which countries to sell in on a case-by-case basis.

For its own energy, Ikea's commitment is to be 100 percent powered by renewables by 2020; 70 percent by 2015.

Currently, IKEA gets 27 percent of its electricity from renewable energy. It owns six wind farms in Europe and solar powers 70 percent of its stores and distribution centers in the U.S., many of which are the largest commercial solar installations in those states. It ranks No. 4 for U.S. commercial solar installations.

This article originally appeared at Sustainable Business News.