In an unprecedented move for a furniture retailer of the likes of Ikea, the company is now actively entering the solar market and stands to make a huge impact in the spread of solar energy in the UK. As the world’s largest furniture retailer, Ikea has store locations worldwide with a massive surface area to work with, a section of which will be allocated towards the retail sale of solar paneling.
This may have come as a surprise but a recent post on the Solar Contact blog defines the high potential of solar energy in the UK, stating that it is soon to become the 5th biggest solar market worldwide. With such potential for sales and opportunities, it’s more revealing why huge players in the home furnishing and appliances market like Ikea are interested in taking part in the development of solar energy in the region – and for more than altruistic reasons.
Ikea’s solar package pilot program was run with tremendous success in Essex, England where they managed to test the market and were impressed with the responsiveness of home owners, selling at least one solar panel system per day. Following this successful pilot, Ikea started rolling out the solar energy home system to their 17 stores across Britain, a process that will take at least another 5 months to complete.
Their photovoltaic panel system costs £5,700 ($9,615) for a standard three-bedroom home, which is on the lower range of panel costs as the package price includes taxes and installation. Because of the lack of sunshine in Britain, the solar panels were designed to generate electricity from ultraviolet rays instead of sunlight. The price is also made more attractive for consumers due to generous government subsidies that were put in place for home owners willing to take on the initial costs of solar energy panels. The subsidies will provide the ability to recoup investment within 7 years of purchase, although other estimates can vary between 7 to 10 years, depending on energy consumption and home size.
Ikea’s British stores will provide a dedicated sales space with on-board staff who will advise shoppers and be available for consultations. The team will be fully educated and experienced on installation, design, and maintenance of solar-panel systems. Upon purchase, Ikea will survey the home and fully install the entire system on the roof, all as part of the initial one-time cost. As a final advantage to the package, Ikea will provide a 5 year materials and labour guarantee for each system that includes ongoing support and performance guarantee.
Will Ikea’s move towards the solar panel retail market influence the adoption of solar energy in the UK? Only time and sales numbers will tell. However, an Ikea spokesman has made it clear that depending on the success of the UK rollout, Ikea stores worldwide may too become a part of this retail strategy.