More residential and small-scale commercial rooftop solar power installations are expected to be made this year than ever before, stimulated by the high cost of grid electricity.
If the current pattern of growth continues, about 230,000 installations will be made in 2023, according to the latest data from industry body Solar Energy UK and certifier MCS – shared exclusively with City A.M.
Overall, a record number of sub-50 kilowatt PV systems were installed in March, totalling 17,595 in all, or 568 per day – as first announced last week by the government.
The latest bounce in new setups suggests consumers are less anxious over the upfront costs of new installations, in a market defined by high energy bills and near record power prices.
As it stands, solar panel installations typically cost around £6,000, with a payback time of 10-11 years, as shown in data from Money Saving Expert.
These figures exclude larger-scale systems over 50kW, such as solar panels mounted on warehouses, supermarkets and factories, and solar farms, sectors of the market which are also booming.
Overall solar capacity now is thought to be approaching 16 gigawatts, with 17GW set to be reached by the end of the year.
Even if the pace of growth levels off, the industry still expects to see more than 200,000 of these systems set up in 2023, with over 54,000 in the first quarter of this year alone.
The current annual record was set in 2011, when a total of 203,120 installations were registered with industry certifier MCS.
The feed-in tariff scheme available at the time created the market, stimulated demand and slashed costs, laying the groundwork for today’s subsidy-free, multi billion pound solar industry.
MCS chief executive Ian Rippin said:“The growth we’ve seen highlights the appetite for solar panels and does give some insight into the growing reliance on home-grown energy in the UK. 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.”
The latest data follows the government’s announcement last week of a solar taskforce, which met for the first time this month.
The taskforce, which was recommended in Tory MP Chris Skidmore’s net zero review, will look to make recommendations to help meet the government’s ambition for 70GW solar power by 2035 – in line with the energy security strategy.
Its focus will be on cutting costs of installation, boosting British jobs and improving grid access to support the vast ramp up in solar power.
This follows previous warnings from industry bodies over the delays in connecting new projects to the grid.
The taskforce will be co-chaired by Solar Energy UK chief executive Chris Hewett,
He argued that installing rooftop solar power, whether at residential or commercial scale, is “one of the best investments available” which can offer hefty savings on energy bills alongside the opportunity to be paid for sending excess power to the grid.
“Solar is the most popular form of power generation amongst the British public and consumer demand has never been higher, but the rate of rooftop installation must double to help hit 70GW by 2035. The number of solar farms will also have to increase significantly. I am delighted we now have industry leaders working directly with the government to resolve the stumbling blocks and maximise the benefits that solar energy offers for the nation,” Hewett said.
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