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Ikea starts selling solar panels in the UK

Swedish flat-pack furniture company Ikea has launched solar panels in-store in Britain as a test market for a global launch.

Swedish flat-pack furniture company Ikea has launched solar panels in-store in Britain as a test market for a global launch.

(Photovoltaik image by Bernd Sieker, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Ikea, known for its stylish, inexpensive, assemble-yourself furniture, wants to do for renewable energy what it has done for flat pack — that is, make it low cost, accessible and mainstream. The Swedish company has begun selling solar panels in its Southampton, UK store, rolling out to the rest of Britain in the coming months and eventually the global market.

The going rate for a standard 3.36-kilowatt photovoltaic system, manufactured by Hanergy in China, is £5700 — approximately AU$9900 at time of writing — including installation, in-store consultation, maintenance and energy monitoring. That actually seems to be a little higher than the current local price, but with the Coalition recently cutting the solar rebate, that could soon change.

"In the past few years the prices on solar panels have dropped, so it's a really good price now," Ikea chief sustainability officer Steve Howard told the Associated Press. "It's the right time to go for the consumers."

In Australia, solar systems take between four and seven years to pay for themselves, according to Choice; getting them installed is a long play, but with prices on coal power rising, it's looking like an increasingly good option. At this point in time, however, solar systems are only available locally through specialist installers; Ikea is poised to bring them to a more mainstream market.