Ikea aims to become number one residential solar retailer

Swedish furniture giant Ikea plans to start offering residential solar arrays from its stores across nine countries including the UK and the Netherlands in 2016/17, in a bid to provide households with an opportunity to reduce energy costs.

Homeowners across the world will soon be able to purchase solar systems at sales points within Ikea stores, after a recent pilot trial received positive customer reaction for its simplicity and transparency.

The new business model will rolled-out to stores across nine countries, with each market enabling Ikea to assess the effectiveness of solar sales in different regulatory environments. Ikea will work closely with supplier and installers to ‘ensure the best solar offerings’.

“Ikea’s ambition is to help and inspire their customers to live a more sustainable life at home and the residential solar program is one step on the way to reach that ambition,” Ikea’s head of sustainability innovation Hakan Nordkvist said.

“Last year there were 770 million visits to Ikea stores worldwide and the company sees that as a great platform to fulfil our ambition and for people to be able to live a more sustainable life at home.

“To be able to deploy residential solar in a big scale we need to have a very simple and transparent purchase process for the customer and the offer needs to be very affordable; this is what our customers normally get when they visit Ikea and this is what we will continue to have, including the residential solar offer.”

The company has confirmed it will not be selling self-branded modules, mounting systems or inverters.

The firm may have a difficult time encouraging UK buyers, after a raft of policy changes has left the future of renewable investment hanging by a thread.

Cuts to feed-in tariffs have dented the solar industry, with the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) figures revealing that solar jobs had fallen by 93%.

Renewed efforts

As a member of the RE100 campaign – with an aim to source 100% renewable energy – Ikea has historically demonstrated a positive sustainability ethos.

In June 2015 it pledged to spend €1bn on renewable energy and tacking climate change in the next five years, including €500m on wind power, and around €100m on solar.

Last year, Ikea announced that its operations in Scandinavia were completely energy independent, following the development of a new wind farm in Sweden.

Last year also saw IKEA’s UK sustainability director Joanna Yarrow unveil details of a new R&D project to trial a behaviour change programme with its customers.

The company worked with 250 households which were experiencing a variety of ‘life scenarios’-  such as moving house or having a baby – and offered them a portfolio of lifestyle changes to help them live out those scenarios more sustainably.

George Ogleby

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