Starting this fall with its locations in California, the Swedish furniture giant Ikea will sell the means to power your Starkvind (that’s an air purifier) and Stjärnstatus (that’s a fridge) by adding solar panels to the company’s offerings. Thankfully, assembly will be handled by the professionals.
To bring photovoltaics — the technical name for solar panels — to the people, Ikea is partnering with SunPower, one of the largest solar-energy providers in the country, which will install the rooftop systems and a DC-battery storage unit. As with all solar installations, the cost and energy generated will vary depending on a range of factors, such as the size of the roof and how much sunlight it sees during the day. Incentives like tax credits can also help sweeten the deal, depending on where you live. Ikea used to sell solar panels in the U.K., starting at around $9,000 per household including the battery, but ended these sales in 2019 after a change in government subsidies made installation too cost prohibitive. So the process is a bit more involved than slinging a few flat-pack panels into your shopping cart alongside some new bath towels, but Ikea’s move into solar energy could make the power source more readily accessible.
In the past few years, Ikea has upped its sustainability efforts in an attempt to offset the massive carbon footprint of its fast-furniture model (which won’t make much of a dent as long as the company is still milling old-growth forests). The stated goal of Ikea’s solar efforts is to zero out the emissions generated to power its plugged-in products, which the company estimates are about 20 percent of its total. Now let’s see if Ikea can make solar panels as ubiquitous and affordable for U.S. homes as its Billy bookshelf — one of which is made every three seconds.