In a sign of the growing mainstream appeal and affordability of solar energy, Ikea, the mega-mart for cheap furniture, announced today that it will begin selling photovoltaic panels at all its stores in the U.K. in the coming months.
The first panels went on sale today at its store in Southhampton at a cost of 5,200 British pounds (or $9,200 U.S. dollars)—a price that will mean the panels pay for themselves in about 7 years for average homeowners, according to the Associated Press.
Ikea said it made the decision because solar panels are getting cheaper—from 2008 to 2012, for example, some smaller photovoltaic systems have dropped in price by 80%. Eventually, the Swedish chain plans to expand solar panels for sale globally, but for now it is starting in the U.K. because of government renewable energy subsidies and policies make it easy for consumers to go solar.
In the U.S., stores like Home Depot already sell panels. But there’s something symbolic about solar being available at Ikea, the place where new grads go to furnish their first apartments. Jigar Shah, a longtime entrepreneur and investor in cleantech, wrote on Twitter of the news: "Ikea is selling solar panels, what’s next? AARP offering free solar with every life insurance policy?"