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UK Sees Record Number of Solar Panel and Heat Pump Installs in 2023

UK Sees Record Number of Solar Panel and Heat Pump Installs in 2023

Heat pump and solar panels

According to new data from the official standards body for renewable technologies, MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme), more British households are installing heat pumps and solar panels than ever before, with a 62% jump compared to last year.

The new data reveals that more than 120,000 certified solar panels, heat pumps, and other renewable technologies were installed in UK homes during the first 6 months of the year, the highest number ever by this point in the year. The figures show that there were more green energy installations in June than in previous years as well as the first half of the year.


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Demand for renewables is expected to be even stronger into the autumn and winter as energy bills remain high. While wholesale prices are falling, pre-crisis levels are not expected to be seen for several years. The government is yet to come up with a plan for supporting householders during the winter. It’s not surprising that more homeowners are keen to fit heat pumps for benefits such as lower bills and lower carbon. However, the biggest barrier for many is the upfront cost of the technology options. 

MCS CEO Ian Rippin said: 

“We are pleased to report that the UK is on track for its strongest year ever for certified small-scale renewable technology installations. The home-grown energy you invest in for your home, or your business plays an ever more crucial role in the decarbonisation of UK buildings.”

The previous record for renewable installations was more than a decade ago in 2012, when UK homeowners raced to install solar panels before cuts to the Feed-In-Tariff incentive scheme began. MCS said that this latest green energy boom has put households on track to install more renewable energy than the 2012 record. 

2023 is the first year to average more than 20,000 solar panel installations per month, and the first to see more than 3,000 heat pumps installed per month. There were 17,920 heat pump installations in the first six months of 2023, a figure only rivalled by a rush to install heat pumps before the end of the Renewable Heat Incentive subsidy scheme in March 2022. Analysts say that if this rate continues, nearly 250.000 households could have renewable energy installed by the end of the year. 

Ian Rippin, the chief executive of MCS, said: 

“As the cost of energy continues to grow, we are seeing more people turn to renewable technology to generate their own energy and heat at home. We need to continue to push this expansion to meet our shared national ambitions to reach net zero by 2050. More consumers have the confidence to invest in small-scale renewables now than ever, but we have to make that transition even easier. 

That is why MCS is currently considering feedback from contractors, consumers, and industry experts on proposals to redevelop the scheme and remove some of the complexity in the sector. We continue to grow year-on-year and it is important that we keep our eye on the future and take time to reassess how we support the industry as that progress continues.”

MCS has estimated that the total installed capacity of small-scale renewable energy installations on British homes and businesses, mainly solar, now exceeds 4GW. This is more than the nuclear power plant under construction at Hinkley Point and almost double the capacity of Europe’s biggest gas power plant near Pembroke in Wales. The energy demand for the entire country averaged 29.4GW a day in the last year, meaning that the solar panels and wind turbines on peoples' homes, at peak conditions, could power over 13% of the UK. 

The UK government has set clear targets to reach 70GW of solar capacity by 2035 and to install 600,000 heat pumps by 2028. To incentivise homeowners the government are offering people in England between £5,000 and £6,000 to install low carbon heating systems, including air source heat pumps. ground source heat pumps and biomass boilers under the Boiler Upgrade Scheme. The Boiler Upgrade Scheme has started to make a difference as heat pump sales are steadily growing. In Scotland, consumers can claim a grant of £7,500-£9,000 towards a heat pump installation plus an additional optional loan of £7,500.
MCS is calling for the government to expand the Boiler Upgrade scheme and offer higher grant values and more vouchers per year. MCS are also asking for the government to mandate solar panels, heat pumps, and battery storage in all new homes from 2025 under the new Future Homes Standard. 

Almost 18,000 homes and businesses have fitted a heat pump in the first half of 2023. MCS has warned that while this growth is “promising” there is “still much further to go” if the Government is to reach its target of installing 600,000 heat pumps per year by 2028. Unfortunately, the uptake of heat pumps has fallen far short of the government’s aim.

Over 80% of the installations so far in 2023 have been electricity-generating technologies, with home solar arrays proving to be particularly popular. British households are turning to home grown energy as the cost-of-living crisis deepens. The first half of 2023 saw 82% more installations than the first half of 2022.

Though the battery market is growing rapidly, most of the new solar arrays are not co-located with batteries. Current figures show that 1,000 homes and businesses installed batteries in the first half of 2023. Each month of 2023 was a record month for battery technologies as installation figures consistently surpassed the month before and this figure continues to grow.
One of the biggest barriers to the continued growth of the renewable energy sector will be recruiting enough qualified, skilled installers to meet demand. At present there are 1,500 certified heat pump installation companies in the UK. MCS estimates that 50,000 qualified heat pump installers will be needed by 2028. So far, in 2023, over 850 new contractors have become MCS certified which is more contractors than joined the scheme during the whole of 2022 showing that installers are being recruited at a faster pace. 

The Heat Pump Federation’s director of external affairs Bean Beanland said:

“Whilst there is much to celebrate, there is a tremendous job of work to do to ensure that heat pump technology becomes mainstream over the remainder of this decade. Enhancing the collaboration with existing and future installers is critical, both to industry success and to the continued development of policy supportive of the electrification of heat and the complete cessation of combustion in due course. 

It is essential that the lowest carbon heat becomes the lowest cost heat so that homeowners and landlords can justify the transition away from polluting fossil fuels. This transition will accelerate as consumers appreciate the advances in protection that the revisions to the MCS scheme are designed to deliver. If this is coupled to a genuine affordability and future funding package, then households will be able to contribute to climate change mitigation with confidence and at a cost that is fair to all.”

In further good news, small steps are now being taken towards improving energy efficiency through retrofitting. The UK government has recently confirmed £20m of funding for a series of initiatives that will serve more than 125,000 homes across England. 

The government has long been criticised for failing to deliver a nationwide home retrofit scheme in light of the energy price crisis and its own climate commitments.
However, Ministers are quick to point out that £6.6bn has been spent on energy efficiency to date. 

Energy Consumers and Affordability Minister Amanda Solloway said: 

“We want everyone to be able to get expert advice on how to make their homes more energy efficient, no matter where they live, so they can save money. These innovative projects will bring that expertise right to people’s doorsteps, quite literally in some cases, ensuring people are given the best advice on how to save money on their bills and heat their homes for less without needing to search for it.”

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