Ikea launches flat-pack solar panels

Ikea has announced plans to start selling solar panels in all its stores - but don't worry, customers won't have to assemble and install them themselves.

The company has been piloting the service at its Lakeside store, and says it's been selling roughly one system a day. A standard 3.36kW photovoltaic (PV) system for a semi-detached home costs £5,700, and there's the option of a finance package which means nothing need be paid upfront. The price includes initial consultancy and installation - a boon, no doubt, for anybody who's struggled with the company's self-assembly furniture - as well as maintenance and ongoing energy monitoring.

The systems are manufactured by Chinese company Hanergy, which claims that the average three-bedroom semi-detached home can achieve savings of up to £768 per year, through a reduction in bills and the ability to sell spare capacity through the government-backed Feed-in Tariff Scheme (FiT).

"We know that our customers want to live more sustainably and we hope working with Hanergy to make solar panels affordable and easily available helps them do just that," says Joanna Yarrow, head of sustainability for Ikea UK and Ireland.

"Evidence shows that installing solar panels enables homeowners to cut their energy bills by up to 50 percent, and it takes on average only seven years at current energy prices to recuperate the money spent on the solar units."

Homeowners in the UK have been slower to take up solar panels than many of our European neighbours. The government has said it aims to have four million homes using solar panels by 2020, and around 2,000 are being connected each week. However, according to a recent report from consultancy WSP Group, just one and a half percent of households have a system installed. Ikea believes that part of the reason is a lack of information, with almost two-thirds of those it questioned saying they were put off by the cost.

Ikea is a strong champion of green energy, having installed over half a million solar panels on the roof of its own stores across the world. It's invested €1.5 billion to make sure that all its energy comes from renewable sources by 2020.