IKEA teases ‘broader’ UK solar offering ahead of 2016 relaunch

Furniture retailer IKEA has hinted at incorporating complementary technologies such as storage and solar thermal into its UK offering when it relaunches early next year.

IKEA pulled the plug on its solar PV offering last month after allowing its supply contract with beleaguered thin-film module manufacturer Hanergy to cease after three years.

The company did disclose at the time that it was to pursue “a new business model” with regard to solar in the UK, and Solar Power Portal understands a number of Chinese manufacturers have expressed interest into stepping into Hanergy’s void.

Last week the retailer published its UK and Ireland sustainability report, within which it revealed that it was looking to offer a “broader range of solar technologies” when it relaunched its offering early next year.

A spokesperson for the company told Solar Power Portal that a business model had now been decided upon.

“When considering a new business model, we have reviewed the solar market in order to keep up with developments in the industry, different technologies and suppliers, allowing us to compare and consider the best offer for our customers,” the spokesperson added.

While IKEA has refused to comment on specific technologies or suppliers, with a number of commercial storage products set to be released into the UK market next year the nascent technology could become a central theme.

Solar thermal could also realistically feature, while advanced smart meters capable of interacting with solar PV installations and other technologies would also be a logical move considering their ability as a complete system to shift consumer demand profiles to cheaper times.

Another option for IKEA would be to refrain from entering into a long-term deal as it did with Hanergy considering the current status of expiry reviews into the EU minimum import price. The retailer could elect to appoint a short-term partner for now which either complies with the arrangement or operates outside of it, before switching again should the MIP be repealed and the UK market able to source cheaper modules.