Record Solar Panels and Heat Pumps Installed
Thanks, in part, to the energy crisis, a record number of homes are turning towards greener technologies to curb rising bills and inflating costs. The latest figures from MCS, the accredited body that approves all renewable and low carbon technologies, have shown that a record number of people have installed solar panels and heat pumps.
The record number of installations happened in the first half of 2023, and the most amount happened in March. Between solar and heat pumps together, an average of 17,000 installations happened across the first six months of the year. March saw 18,706 fittings, whereas June saw 18,511. The previous high was 17,439 in December 2015.
You can see how the data compared with 2022 in the interactive graph below.
With heat pumps, the most ever fitted in one month was 7,503 in March 2022. In March this year, the number was down to 2,888, but both June and July saw almost 3,000 heat pumps fitted, which is much more seen delivered every month after March last year. Despite the Boiler Upgrade Scheme opening in May 2022, more households fitted heat pumps to make use of its precursor, the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), which paid households for renewable heat generated.
With domestic solar panels, the highest amount ever recorded was 16,766 in December 2015. Since 2016 though, uptake has been pretty low, at around 2,000–3,000 installations every month. In 2023, however, the average monthly fittings have been around 15,000, with a peak of 15,819 in March. MCS has put these increases to the rise in energy bills as households have looked to reduce their reliance on spikes from energy companies.
Small-scale renewable installations across homes and businesses in the UK have a combined output of 4GW. This is more than the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant being constructed and almost twice as much as Europe’s biggest gas power plant in Wales. An estimated 70GW of solar power will be achieved by 2035. The more renewable energy the country has at its disposal, the easier it will be to transition towards net zero.
One of the ways in which the government has hoped to achieve this goal is to increase the number of heat pumps in homes. Despite offering £5,000 off the cost of installing a heat pump with the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, and setting a goal of 600,000 installations a year by 2028, this has fallen flat. According to the MCS Installations Database, there have been just over 20,000 heat pumps installed this year alone. Even 2022 only had 30,000 installed in total, which is 20% of the goal.
If the UK has any hope of achieving a significant uptake of heat pumps, at least 50,000 workers will be needed. There are currently only just over 1,600 MCS accredited heat pump suppliers. It is essential that the lowest costing form of heating becomes these low carbon technologies in order for a smooth transition away from fossil fuels. Landlords and homeowners alike will then be able to afford and justify the switch.