Well, if diversification is the key to success in business IKEA will be here forever.  You’ve seen their ads showing all the RTA (Ready to Assemble) furniture lines.  Now, Swedish flat-pack furniture giant IKEA will start selling residential solar panels at its stores in Britain, the first step in its plan to bring renewable energy to the mainstream market worldwide.

Available only in Britain for now the company hopes to go world wide.  In the US, when the day comes, a standard, all-black 3.36 kilowatt system for a semi-detached home will cost $9,200 and should include an in-store consultation and design service as well as installation, maintenance and energy monitoring service.

According to IKEA representatives:

"In the past few years the prices on solar panels have dropped, so it's a really good price now," IKEA Chief Sustainability Officer Steve Howard told The Associated Press. "It's the right time to go for the consumers."

"If you are going to be in your house that long, your energy will be free after seven years," he said.

Some retailers in the U.S., including the Home Depot and Lowe's, already sell solar panels. But in other parts of the world, consumers often have to research a myriad specialist firms before making a purchase.

Howard said IKEA aims to launch the products in other countries eventually. It picked Britain as its test market 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.