Solar Energy UK
24 February 2023
The solar power industry saw spectacular growth in 2022, driven by the energy price crisis and consumer desire for a more sustainable lifestyle. A greater number of smaller-scale systems were installed than in any year since 2015, more than twice the amount seen in 2021 and setting a post-subsidy record.
A total of 130,596 were mounted on UK rooftops last year, according to new data from MCS, the standards organisation for homegrown renewable energy and heating technology across the UK. The number is almost the same as those installed in 2019, 2020 and 2021 put together.
The data covers all solar photovoltaic systems with a generating capacity of up to 50 kilowatts that have been registered with MCS. The range covers all domestic and most commercial rooftop systems, excluding warehouse roofs and solar farms.
Further illustrating the public’s well-established enthusiasm for solar energy, this January set a new post-subsidy monthly record of 16,043 MCS registrations – three times the number seen only a year earlier.
The previous record monthly installation rate was set in December 2015, after which the Feed-in Tariff subsidy for domestic-scale solar installations was slashed to a fraction of its former level. Payments for new systems were eliminated at the end of March 2019, as the price of solar panels had fallen dramatically over the years.
The Increased demand for green energy solutions has also led to more companies becoming MCS-certified contractors, rising by 780 in one year – more than double the growth seen over 2020-21.
The extraordinary growth pace of growth comes despite the industry hitting some headwinds last year, affected by restricted availability of equipment, an acute skills shortage and the poorly designed Electricity Generator Levy.
There are now more than 1,265,000 registered solar power installations across the UK, with about 1.1m of them on homes. Solar Energy UK estimates that the UK now has at least 15GW of solar power capacity in place, two thirds on the ground and the remainder on residential and commercial roofs.
There are also signs that the size of individual installations is growing, presumably spurred by the swifter payback periods created by expensive grid electricity. The average MCS-registered installation in 2022 came in at 4.34 kilowatts, while the figure for January was 4.79kW.
“The rapid increase in solar power sales is great news for the economy, public pockets, net zero and of course for energy security too. Solar is surely one of the fastest-growing sectors in the UK right now. The data indicates that the current pace of installation will have to double again for consumer-scale systems to match the number needed to meet the target set for all solar power in the Government’s Energy Security Strategy, though that is clearly achievable, as it would be less than in 2011 and 2012, the height of the Feed-in Tariff era,” said Chris Hewett, Chief Executive of Solar Energy UK.
“Furthermore, considering the huge scale of investment in photovoltaic manufacturing around the world, the Skidmore Review calling for a ‘solar revolution’, colossal energy bills and the climate crisis becoming ever more evident, there is every expectation that this will be fulfilled,” he added.
“The growth we’ve seen highlights the appetite for solar PV and does give some insight into the growing reliance on home-grown energy in the UK. As electricity prices continue to rise, more people are turning to renewable solutions to generate their own power at home and it’s great to see increasing levels of confidence in solar,” said MCS Chief Executive Ian Rippin.
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