Solar power straight off the shelf
Furniture giant IKEA are soon to stock solar panels in all their UK stores, evidence that renewable technology can really compete in the global marketplace says David Thomas.......
The mood among UK trade organizations is that despite working hard to promote solar PV as an investment, governmental mismanagement has done the industry harm.
However, Swedish company IKEA, which has just announced the decision to stock solar panels in its UK stores, is in a position of strength, as it is unaffiliated to either government or industry.
Millions live in homes furnished by IKEA and associate the brand with basic, trustworthy products that represent value for money. IKEA is universal, and hopefully will lend some of that ubiquity to solar.
A dreaded hike in energy prices - potentially 10%, by the UK's Big Six energy providers - together with the cooling-off time that has elapsed since the negative publicity over feed-in tariffs, could combine to create welcoming conditions for IKEA to champion solar. The UK might be ready to listen again.
The company has the advantage that it can promote solar to shoppers coming in for other products. A shop-front is something the solar industry does not have. Introducing PV in this way, to people who hadn't previously considered investing in alternative energy, could make a difference to how the UK perceives microgeneration.
Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker has made a speech calling for a 'decentralized energy revolution'. For the past year and a half he has been championing the Green Deal, an underperforming energy efficiency policy aimed at retrofitting cold homes, which was hyped as the government's flagship policy and yet has bankrupted a number of training centers and small companies and seems to embody all that is cursed about the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
Now Greg Barker is calling for community energy to play a big part in how the UK is powered, saying: 'The Big 6 needs to become the Big 60,000.' Is Greg Barker trying to reinvigorate the Green Deal? Yes, he is. Meanwhile, he is toeing the party line by supporting shale gas. Community energy, the Green Deal, shale gas: talking about these themes is his homework, and for a politician to make a positive difference is difficult.
Read more at The Ecologist.
Ikea image via Shutterstock.