IKEA UK launches its home solar service

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After unveiling plans to become the world’s largest residential solar retailer in March, IKEA has begun its charge with the launch of its branded “Solar Shops” and an online portal for homeowners to purchase their own systems. This is the good news that the U.K. domestic solar market needed, after a terrible start to 2016, which saw home installations drop around 80% from the same time last year.

IKEA UK backed up its launch of the “Solar Shops” with its own research, which found that 33% of homeowners in the U.K would like to invest in solar panels. It found that homeowners are most concerned with cutting electricity bills, and that the average homeowner in the U.K. could save up to 50% if they installed solar panels.

The systems that are offered by IKEA are paid off in approximately 11 years, and will continue to generate free, clean energy after that. “IKEA’s brilliant initiative is making solar part of people’s everyday lives and that is exactly what is needed if we are to tackle climate change,” commented Solar Trade Association’s CEO, Paul Barwell.

IKEA has recruited one of the world’s oldest solar companies, Solarcentury, to be its business partner in the initiative and provide essential expertise. “Together with IKEA we have designed an offer which makes solar simple for homeowners,” said Susannah Wood, Head of Residential Solar at Solarcentury. “We’ve blended IKEA’s retail expertise to arrive at an offer which combines quality with great value for money.”

Solarcentury will draw from its extensive network of solar contacts to supply local installers for each domestic system purchased through IKEA. Solarcentury confirmed with pv magazines that it will be using panels manufactured by Canadian Solar and JA Solar for the IKEA installations.

“Solarcentury is a long serving member of the Solar Trade Association and well known in the industry for their high standards,” continued Barwell. “This very exciting partnership is tremendous news for homeowners, the solar industry and the environment.”

The boost U.K. solar needed

The launch of this initiative has come at a critical time for residential solar in the U.K., as changes in the government’s feed-in tariff scheme has resulted in a dramatic drop in domestic installations. “Domestic deployment is down 80% on this time last year, but we are optimistic it will pick up – the market just needs some time to adjust,” Leonie Greene, spokesperson for the Solar Trade Association, told pv magazine. “This initiative will certainly help get the message out to the public that, despite the glitches, the solar roll-out carries on.”

IKEA has big plans for its residential solar systems, and is ready to make big efforts to become a world leader in the industry. After launching its “Solar Shops” in its Glasgow, Birmingham, and Lakeside stores, it plans to expand them to all of its stores in the U.K. by the end of the year.

“At IKEA we believe that renewable energy is undoubtedly the power of the future,” commented Joanna Yarrow, Head of Sustainability at IKEA UK and Ireland. “We’re already using solar power across our operations, and it’s exciting to be able to help households tap into this wonderful source of clean energy.”

This initiative, from such a far reaching and renowned brand is giving the industry some renewed hope, and shows that the domestic market should survive past the wavering support from the U.K. government. “Rolling it out to all their stores means hundreds of thousands of people will have the opportunity to ask about going solar and that’s got to be good news. It turns solar into an everyday purchase,” added Greene.