IKEA jump on renewable energy bandwagon

You have received yet another huge heating bill from your utility supplier, you are scared of turning on the heating despite it snowing outside and you ration your hot water and even your cooking to save on electricity – what you need is a trip to IKEA for some solar panels!


 Yes, it won't be long until you can go to your local IKEA store and pick up one of their solar panel packages and pretty soon you will be creating your own electricity from nothing more than the light emitted from the sun. This can then be used to heat your home via electric radiators or underfloor heating.


 Following a pilot program at the Lakeside store near Essex where they sold one set of solar panels each day, the company has decided to roll the product out to all of its 17 UK stores over the next 10 months.


 The panels are being offered in conjunction with Hanergy Holding Group Ltd, a Chinese company who produced the solar panels.  A typical array of 18 panels sells fro £5,700 and based on current government feed-in-tariff rates, this would mean reaching the break-even point after seven years. Customers receive an instore consultation on how the system works, installation of the product and ongoing maintenance of the panels as part of the package.


 Solar PanelsJoanna Yarrow the head of sustainability for IKEA has said that the company hopes that by making solar panels accessible and affordable, they will help UK homeowners to live a more sustainable lifestyle.


 IKEA isn't just aiming to make money from their customers by selling these products, they have actually installed solar panels on many of their stores and warehouses and aims to be producing 70% of its own energy needs in the UK from wind and solar by 2015 and 100% by 2020.


 So, it might feel a little odd to pick up solar panels while you are buying your latest sofa or Billy bookcase, but this type of large scale retail environment is ideal for making solar panels more affordable for everyone. It is well known that many people would love to install solar panels, but that they are put off by the cost. At just £5,700, this offer is very competitive and the payback time compares very favourably to other similar systems.


 Of course, it still pays to do your homework. Bear in mind that in order to benefit from the feed-in-tariff, you will need to have your solar panels installed by someone registered with the Microgeneration Scheme. You won't be able to do a self-installation unless you have it checked and certified. Also, the government reviews the feed-in-tariff every three months and often it is reviewed in a downwards fashion. You will receive the tariff which was available at the time of your installation – so it may be different to what is available today.


 But if you are looking for cheap electricity and the ability to step away from the energy treadmill, IKEA may have set a trend for different ways of buying renewable energy. Who knows? It could be flat pack wind turbines next.