A DECC minister has talked up the potential of solar for the second time in as many weeks.

Climate change minister Amber Rudd visited the Southampton branch of IKEA on Tuesday, the first to begin selling solar panels in-store, and praised the UK’s efforts at opening up the solar market.

“Renewable energy is at the heart of the government’s policy to make Britain more sustainable. Affordable solar panels such as those available from IKEA with Hanergy, are helping thousands of people bring down their energy bills while reducing their carbon footprint. We are proud that the UK is leading the way in making solar panel installation accessible,” said Rudd.

Her visit followed up on comments by energy minister Matt Hancock who said in a Commons debate last week: “I think solar is one of the big opportunities. As the price falls and it becomes competitive – potentially grid competitive – in the short- to medium-term, solar is a big opportunity, even in cloudy old England.”

Rudd’s visit marked the first anniversary of IKEA’s solar system sales, which have since been rolled out to all of its 18 UK stores.

“Enabling our customers to live a more sustainable life at home is at the heart of IKEA’s sustainability strategy, and one of the easiest ways to do this is through solar. Since introducing solar panels a year ago, we‘ve helped more than 1,300 households save money on their electricity bills by harnessing the power of the sun,” said Joanna Yarrow, head of sustainability at IKEA UK and Ireland.

Toby Ferenczi, CEO of Hanergy UK, which provides the design and installation service on behalf of IKEA, said: “Hanergy solar panels available at IKEA can cut household energy costs by half, which means it takes on average just seven years to recuperate the cost of panel installation at current energy prices.”