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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 August 2006, 14:04 GMT 15:04 UK
High street solar panels on sale
Home with solar panels (copyright: eyewire)
Any excess electricity can be sold back to the grid
A major British electrical retailer is selling solar panels in high street shops for the first time.

Currys has launched a pilot scheme in three of its stores selling the off-the-shelf green technology.

Shoppers in West Thurrock, Essex, and Fulham and Croydon in south London, will be able to snap up the 1,000 panels, manufactured by Sharp.

An installed system that could halve the bill of a typical three-bedroom home costs 9,000, Currys says.

Solar panels are already offered by a number of specialist manufacturers and suppliers, but are often expensive.

Customers visiting a participating Currys branch will be offered an in-store consultation followed by a free home assessment to check that their property is suitable.

The retailer says the panels will help "future proof" homes against rising fuel prices.

Graph showing rapid growth in solar PV over last decade.
Customers can apply for grants to help offset the cost of a system.

Applications for government grants under the Low Carbon Buildings scheme are assessed using criteria laid down by the Department of Trade and Industry. Most householders will have to achieve energy efficiency standards before they are eligible.

The Energy Saving Trust, which administers government grants, calculates that a system for an average-sized house would cost between 8,000 and 18,000, and yield annual savings between 75 and 125.

Some electricity supply companies will buy back any excess electricity generated by the panels.

Although sales of solar panels are increasing in Britain, they remain far behind some other countries including Germany.

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