Flat packed renewable energy, Swedish style

Sweden’s IKEA have announced plans to commence selling solar photovoltaic panels to the private home owner. The innovation furniture giant  are taking their first steps into a new home market, which they hope to roll out world-wide.

IKEA_Store smMoving away from their standard business model of flat pack and home self-assembly, IKEA are proposing an all-inclusive package of design, installation monitoring equipment and maintenance, with an approximate 7 year investment pay-back for the average home.

Solar panel prices have been dropping significantly over the years and this innovative announcement will see the panels manufactured in Germany by the Chinese manufacture Hanenergy Solar.

The Swedish furniture giant have for many years been looking at their own green credentials throughout every store they operate worldwide. Some 250,000 solar panels have already been fitted across their vast roof space in order to generate a small but none the less important proportion of the stores electricity requirements.

Initially the home solar panels will only be available in the UK, which has over the last three years seen a huge surge with the number of homes fitted with renewable electricity generating technologies, such as solar panels and wind turbines. Thanks to the Government’s Feed-in Tariffs which were introduced on the 1st April 2010, any domestic micro renewable production technology can qualify for subsidies to encourage their uptake. The Feed-in Tariff pays the consumer 14.9p /kWh (€0.18/kWh) for electricity the home produces, with excess electricity being sold back into the national grid at an additional rate of 4.6p/kWh (€0.06 /kWh). The electricity generated in this decentralised way also decreases the reliance on bought-in electricity, and so reduces the costs.

pv_roof_installation2_smalllThe standard 3.36 kilowatt photovoltaic system for an average home will cost circa £5,700 (€6,800) which includes, consultation, design, installation, maintenance and the energy monitoring.

IKEA are not the first retailer in the UK to offer a one-stop shop package for solar panels supply and installation. A well-known UK supermarket chain and other retailers have also been quick to take advantage of the Feed-in Tariffs ability to stimulate the consumer market to switch to micro renewable electricity generation.

IKEA’s market position and dominance will clearly encourage many more consumers to generate clean electricity, which in the long run is not only an innovative use of Britain’s roof tops, but also can mean huge changes for the country’s electricity generation strategy. Decentralised, local and renewable production carries many benefits.

If the UK test bed proves successful after the planned 10 month roll out, IKEA propose to offer the same products throughout their worldwide store network. This could be the start of a micro energy revolution.

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