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IKEA selling Chinese solar panels

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IKEA stores, to be run on 100 percent renewables by 2020, announced on October 1, 2013 that it began selling Chinese solar panels in its Lakeside Store in Southampton, UK. It will carry them in its other 17 British stores in ten months.

One new system has been selling almost every day since a pilot program began in July. IKEA is also comitted to expanding the sustainable products lines that help consumers "save energy, water and sort waste four-fold by 2020," according to Joanna Yarrow, head of sustainability IKEA UK and Ireland.

The standard all-black 3.36 kilowatt (kW) photovoltaic (PV) system made by China's Hanergy will cost 5,700 British pounds (US$9,200) including design, installation, maintenance and energy monitoring. Swedish giant IKEA plans to sell renewable
energy worldwide. In Britain, the average home owner will be able to pay off the system in about 7 years and cut their energy bills in half in the meantime. IKEA Chief Sustainability Officer Steve Howard said to the homeowners who remain in their homes, "your energy will be free after seven years." Any unused power generated can be sold by the homeowner back to the U.K. government grid.

The solar panels will be sold in other countries eventually, but the project was launched in Britain because "it has the right combination of mid-level electricity prices and government-sponsored financial incentives that make investing in solar energy attractive to consumers." The U.K government has a financing plan whereby residents buy a solar system with no money down and pay it off gradually.

As for the United States, one company official told the Wall Street Journal that it is unknown if the product will be offered in U.S. IKEA stores but it is possible. Some major retailers like Home Depot already sell solar panels. In February 2013, Honda announced an offer to its customers in SolarCity's 14 states including Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington.

Honda invested in a $65 million fund for SolarCity to lease, install and maintain solar panel systems for no or a small upfront charge to help Honda and Acura customers with the initial costs. Then customers pay a monthly fee like electric utilities for the electricity produced, including insurance, repairs and monitoring service. Total cost for installation and equipment is between $10,000 and $20,000, electric bills are lower and it helps protect the environment. The intent is to encourage purchase of electric and plug-in vehicles.

Hanergy is China's largest privately-owned clean-energy company and the number one thin-film PV-company worldwide after acquiring Germany's Solibro in September 2012, the U.S. Silicon Valley solar firm MiaSolé in January 2013, U.K. solar installation firm Engensa in May 2013, and Tucson, Arizona-based Global Solar Energy in July 2013. In 2012, it signed a 3-year deal to make and install solar panels on Chinese IKEA stores.

Hanergy set up an office south of San Francisco in 2010. One of its goals for the U.S. market is to build solar power projects and benefit from the current trade case against imported Chinese silicon solar cells. Hanergy signed a 105 mW U.S. project on July 31, 2013.

In a September 13, 2013 6-month report to investors, Bermuda-registered
Hanergy Solar listed banked government grants of HK$32 million. "Tax breaks will be offered to solar companies that acquire others, merge or reorganize their operations to improve performance. In addition, the PRC [People's Republic of China] government has encouraged financial institutions to provide credit support to solar PV companies." And "Hanergy Solar points out the EU-China anti dumping trade deal which set a minimum price for solar wafers, cells and modules does not apply to thin film products." This refers to the PRC state subsidy support for solar companies. Hanergy's net profit doubled in the first six months of 2013 to US$186 million, and Hanergy Solar should have HK$4.9 billion on hand by the end of October 2013.

Watch the video about American jobs. When buying solar panels, please be sure they are American-made by an American-owned company. Forward the video on to your friends.

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