IKEA, a great place to pick up a solar-powered light-up snack bowl while also shopping for frozen moose lasagna and things made from wood, has announced it will start selling actual solar panels at all 17 of the Swedish retailer’s U.K. outposts within the next 10 months.

First things first: Solar-curious British IKEA shoppers can be rest assured that home installation of the panels is included with the purchase of the made-in-Germany PV systems which, according to The Guardian, involve a “minimum spend” of £5,700 ($9,200) for an 18-panel, 3.36-kilowatt array. Financing options will also be available. That being said, those who invest in the basic 18-panel PV package from IKEA should break even within around seven years, thanks to reduced energy costs and government incentives. In addition to a cryptic instruction-free installation that's (mercifully) performed by (a highly trained) somebody else, an in-store consultation, maintenance, and a six-pack of cinnamon rolls energy-monitoring services are also included in the sticker price.

"We know that our customers want to live more sustainably, and we hope working with Hanergy [the China-headquartered thin-film solar panel manufacturer that will be providing installation, maintenance, etc.] to make solar panels affordable and easily available helps them do just that,” says Joanna Yarrow, head of IKEA Sustainability for the U.K. and Ireland, in a statement released by the almighty meatball and MDF coffee table peddler.

The announcement follows a successful pilot program at the home furnishings retailer’s Lakeside location outside of London in which a PV system reportedly has been sold nearly every day since launch. It’s unclear if or when IKEA will start offering PV systems in markets outside of the sun-drenched United Kingdom, although Steve Howard, chief sustainability officer for the retailer, tells the Wall Street Journal that expanding into the U.S. is a possibility and that the initiative is “a real business and if we take this to global scale it will be of course a commercial business — you've got to make some profit from it.”

"You don't have to care about the environment and climate change, you can just care about the finances," adds Howard. He also makes it crystal clear that, unlike most IKEA products, the company's home solar partnership with Hanergy will be anything but a DIY affair: "You can assemble your own kitchen, but we're not suggesting people install their own solar panels on their roof."

As I've reported numerous times in the past, IKEA is a famously renewables-happy company with an ambitious goal to achieve complete energy independence by the year 2020. In addition to being free of incandescent lighting, a majority of the company’s stores, distribution centers, and other facilities are already topped with solar arrays. The company is also continuing to invest heavily in European wind farms.

It’s obvious that the company takes sustainability seriously (although most of its products aren't inherently sustainable) but would you buy a solar system from the same place where you buy lingonberry jam, cheap bath towels and area rugs? Big box home improvement retailers such as Home Depot and Lowe's are already selling personal wind turbines and offering solar estimates, but IKEA selling PV panels is decidedly a touch different. 

Any thoughts, IKEA shoppers?

Via [The Guardian], [WSJ]

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