The number of rooftop solar panels installed by UK households and businesses hit a 12-year high in 2023, figures from the industry’s official standards body show.
According to the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS), more than 183,000 solar photovoltaic installations were installed across the UK last year, exceeding the total amount installed in 2022 by more than one third.
The growth in small-scale rooftop solar panel installations reflects growing demand among homeowners in the UK to generate their own electricity in a bid to drive down increasing bills, the MCS said. Energy bills in the UK remained unusually high throughout 2023, triggered by the global energy crisis.
Heat pump installations also climbed to all-time highs last year, the MCS added. A total of 35,000 certified pumps were installed in 2023, up 25% from 2022 and the biggest ever annual jump in the technology’s uptake, with more than 200,000 heat pumps now installed across the UK since 2008.
The MCS said increased uptake of heat pumps was likely aided, at least in part, by the Government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS), a grant that gives homeowners up to £7,500 ($9,545) off the cost and installation of a heat pump. The BUS received several injections of cash from the government last year, the most recent coming just last month, which Chancellor Jeremy Hunt pledged a further £1.5bn for.
Advances in heat pump technology last year and cheaper offerings for the heating system might have also contributed to increased installations. In September, Octopus Energy unveiled its first own-brand heat pump, which can be bought and installed for a fraction of the price of those currently on the market.
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However, uptake is still falling far behind government targets, which currently require 600,000 heat pumps to be installed by 2028.
Battery storage technology also broke records in 2023, with more homeowners installing battery storage systems alongside their solar panels for improved reliability. Of the UK’s 4,700 certified batteries, 4,400 were installed last year.
Chris Hewett, chief executive of the trade association Solar Energy UK, said: “The solar industry is on a roll, particularly as we start to conclude work on the government-industry solar taskforce, whose road map for delivering 70GW of capacity is due to be published in a couple of months.
“It is also very gratifying to see such growth in the deployment of heat pumps and battery energy storage systems, which partner so well with rooftop solar energy systems by maximising the savings and decarbonisation that they offer.”