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Record year for UK home renewable energy installations

by Mark Cantrell
A heat pump being installed

More households in the UK are installing heat pumps and solar panels than ever before, according to the standards and certification body for renewable technologies.

There’s been a large leap forward, says MCS, with its latest data showing a 62% rise compared to last year.

The figures for the first six months of 2023 show that more than 120,000 MCS-certified solar panels, heat pumps, and other renewable technologies were installed in UK homes. This is the highest number the organisation says it has ever seen by this point of the year.

It’s been more than a decade since the previous record rise – 2012 – when the organisations says households “raced” to get solar panels installed before cuts to the government’s Feed-in-Tariff incentive scheme came into effect.

Ian Rippin, chief executive of MCS, 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.

“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.”

Sustained growth

In June this year, according to MCS figures, 27,791 certified installations were recorded on homes and businesses across the UK, bringing the total for the first half of the year to 122,155.

What’s more, 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.

Analysts suggest that with this sustained growth, nearly a quarter of a million households could install renewable energy by the end of this year.

Over 80% of the installations so far in 2023 have been electricity-generating technologies, MCS says; driven mainly by the continued growth in solar PV installations.

By the end of June, there were 102,797 certified installations of solar PV alone as more households turn to home-grown energy during the cost-of-living crisis. The first half of 2023 saw 82% more installations than the first half of 2022.

Small-scale renewable energy installations on homes and businesses across the UK now have a total installed capacity of 4GW. 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.

Batteries now included

The growth in solar has been mirrored by battery storage installation growth since MCS introduced the standard for this technology at the end of 2021.

Each month of 2023 has been a record month for battery technologies, the organisation says, with installation figures surpassing the month before, totalling over 1,000 batteries going into homes and businesses across the UK in 2023 so far.

There has been similar success in the growth of low-carbon heating, with average heat pump installations being over 3,000 per month for the first time in 2023.

There were 17,920 heat pump installations in the first six months of 2023. The MCS says this figures has only been rivalled by a rush to install heat pumps before the end of the Renewable Heat Incentive subsidy scheme in March 2022.

Making the mainstream

Gareth Simkins, senior communications adviser at Solar Energy UK, said: “In the spring, it was looking like we would have something like 215,000 MCS-certified solar installations this year. But that was clearly an underestimate – would bet on around 250,000 now. Installing solar on your roof is one of the best home improvements you can make, and more and more people realise the financial and environmental benefits.”

Bean Beanland, director of external affairs, at the Heat Pump Federation, 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.”

Image credit: I AM NIKOM/Shutterstock

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