Ikea made it much easier for British people to green their homes – for a while. Then, after the government reduced subsidies for renewable energy, the company quietly stopped selling the panels, and now they’ve resumed them again.

Why Ikea selling solar panels matters

Image via Ikea.

When Ikea starts selling something, it’s safe to say it’s become mainstream. Initially, the company said that the solar panels will be available in stores in Glasgow, Birmingham, and Lakeside, as well as online. They offer two options: blue solar panels (which are cheaper) and black solar panels (which are more expensive, but offer more energy).

According to Solarcentury  (Ikea’s current partner in this endeavor) the blue solar panels cost about £4,875, or $7,057, while the black solar panels will run about £5,150, or about $7,455. That’s quite a hefty price, but the average annual electricity bill for a house in the UK is £1,000, or $1,500 so you could recover the investment in 10 years, which is acceptable from a business point of view, though not fantastic. For larger houses,  that investment could be recovered 50% faster. But the main incentive would be greening up your house, and with Ikea involved, the whole process became much easier and accessible.

IKEA UK and Ireland’s Head of Sustainability Joanna Yarrow said:

“At IKEA we believe that renewable energy is undoubtedly the power of the future. 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.”

Why Ikea stopped selling solar panels…

There’s a specific “bla-bla” in the quote above, as Ikea was quick to trumpet its green credentials, but withdrew their project after government cuts to green subsidies. The UK made a mockery of their sustainable ambitions when they slashed subsidies by 64 percent, greatly affecting Ikea’s prospects of selling solar panels.

The company’s move was understandable, but their silence wasn’t. They touted the start of the solar affair so much, but were quite quiet when it all went down crashing.

Their first contract was with a Chinese company called Hanergy, but they cancelled the deal and didn’t renew it. No details were given, and Ikea’s foray into renewable energy seemed to come to an end.

… and then started selling them again

Quote example. Image via Solarcity.

Ikea now partnered with a new company, Solarcentury – and this time, it seems like the panels are here to stay. Customers in Glasgow, Birmingham, and Lakeside can check them online, but everyone else can check out the prices at the website of Solarcentury.

They say that even with the current events, a third of all British homeowners are still considering installing solar panels.

“Despite the challenging UK renewable energy policy situation, we want to turn solar into an essential part of any home and believe our new ‘Solar Shops’ will be a major milestone in making this happen,” said Joanna Yarrow, IKEA’s UK and Ireland head of sustainability.

It will be interesting to see what impact this move has, and whether it will make a big difference or not. But it’s becoming clearer and clearer that renewable energy is starting to enter our lives more and more – even with a lack of government support.

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