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IKEA Teams With LG Chem As Storage Battery Prices Plunge

IKEA has teamed up with LG Chem to offer customers solar panel and storage battery packages. Meanwhile, a new study says government support of storage battery research is essential to driving down prices in the future.

IKEA has teamed up with LG Chem and Solarcentury to offer residential storage battery solutions to its customers in the UK. Hege Saebjornsen, sustainability manager for IKEA UK & Ireland, tells Solar Power Portal the new partnership will offer customers more control over their electricity usage and pricing. “With energy bills already going up 15% this year, there’s never been a better time for customers to take back control of their electricity bills and maximize their savings by switching to solar and solar storage,” he said.

IKEA storeSolar-plus-storage solutions from IKEA will start at around $9,000 with LG Chem supplying batteries in classifications between 3.3 kWh and 6.5 kWh. Battery-only packages for those who already have solar panels begin at under $6,000 after a 15% IKEA family discount. Batteries from Germany’s Sonnenbatterie will also be offered as part of the program.

Susannah Wood, head of residential solar at Solarcentury, meanwhile, said that her firm’s partnership with IKEA is a “significant step forwards” for the renewables industry. “We believe IKEA and Solarcentury are bringing the most competitive package to the market yet, so more people than ever before can profit financially and environmentally by producing their own energy,” she said. As utility prices in the UK continue to rise, payback for the systems from IKEA is expected to be in the range of 12 years or less.

New Study Touts Importance Of Government Supported Research

The announcement from IKEA comes at the same time as a new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, TU Munich, and the Center for Digital Technology Management in Germany. It was titled “Energy Storage Deployment and Innovation for the Clean Energy Transition” and published on July 31 in the journal Nature Energy.

The authors of the study note that the cost of battery storage has plunged dramatically over the past two decades and credit much of that reduction to research funded by the US government. They warn that continued investment in basic research is vital to driving those costs even lower.

However, the antipathy to government funding exhibited by the Trump maladministration endangers such continued investment. The latest budget proposal for the Department of Energy eliminates the budget for ARPA-E entirely. Money provided by ARPA-E has been the primary driver for battery research in recent years.

“We note that the relative decline in public R&D spending could forestall critical cost reduction and advances toward achieving a deep decarbonization in the electricity sector and bringing new material advances from the lab to the market,” the study says. “One way to drive this research is through government spending that could achieve drastic cost reductions for energy storage systems.”

Daniel Kammen, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley and director of its Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, tells Think Progress, “We saw a great increase in positive competition under the Obama-era ARPA-E program, when many candidate technologies competed for recognition and support. Now, if the Trump cuts do take place, this will not only cause a short-term tightening, but can also cut into this ‘diversity competition’ which is so important over the long-run.”

The United States government, which is now almost a wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries, is using taxpayer money to try to resuscitate the coal industry and damping efforts to drive the adoption of renewable energy technology. Looking to the past rather than the future could have significant negative effects on the US economy in both the short and long term.

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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. 3000 years ago, Socrates said, "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." Perhaps it's time we listened?


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