Are Solar Panels Worth It in Wales?
- Wales sees 1,583 hours of sunshine a year
- Solar panels in Wales produced 1,134 megawatts of power in 2021
- Details of solar panel grants in Wales
Different areas of the UK benefit from various levels of sunshine, which determines how effective solar panels can be. According to the MCS Installations Database, there have been over 84,000 solar panels installed throughout Wales between 2009 and 2023. Both businesses and residential areas have had them fitted, but do solar panels and Wales make the perfect match?
By local authority, the Isle of Anglesey has the most amount of households with solar panels fitted, at 7.04%, which is the highest percentage across the entire UK. This is followed by Ceredigion at 5.12% and Powys at 4.2%. On the lower end of the scale, Cardiff only has 0.86% of households with solar panels, with Bridgend on 0.95%. But don’t let Cardiff’s MCS data put you off. Solar panels in Wales work very well, as this article will explain.
This article will go through how effective solar panels in Wales are, how much they cost and whether there are any grants available. It will also look at how many solar installations have been undertaken throughout the UK. If you qualify for a grant or a scheme in Wales, you may be able to receive solar panels for free.
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How Effective Are Solar Panels in Wales?
When looking at Welsh Government data, the facts for solar panels in Wales are quite impressive. In 2021, 113 megawatts of new solar power was installed, which was 5 times as much as 2020. At the time, Wales had over 1.1GW of solar power across 64,000 projects. At least 55% of the country’s electricity consumption was met with renewables, and they plan on reaching 70% by 2030.
Additionally, the Welsh Government is keen to make sure renewable sources are at least partially locally owned. Local ownership keeps control in the hands of residents, which increases their support. It also makes sure that their money is used as constructively as possible. By 2030, Wales hopes to have at least 1GW of renewable energy to be locally owned; in 2021, 90% of this target had already been met. The Swansea solar farm contributed to this, which demonstrates how beneficial solar panels in Wales actually are.
Hours of Sun
Wales has a relatively sunny climate, making it an ideal place for solar panels. An average year will see 1,583 hours of sun in Wales, whereas England has just over 1,659 hours and Scotland sees 1,440 hours. There are, of course, sunnier places throughout the UK, but the sunniest place in Wales is Tenby in Pembrokeshire. Tenby averages over 1,700 hours of sunshine a year, outperforming other UK national averages.
So, with an ideal climate, solar panels and Wales work incredibly well together. Compared to the rest of the UK, Wales has 84,690 solar PV installations to date. England has 1,111,296 and Scotland has 144,960. Northern Ireland, on the other hand, only has 27,739 solar arrays in total.
How Much Does it Cost to Install Solar Panels in Wales?
The price of your solar array will differ depending on how many panels you’re installing. You can expect the average cost to be between £7,500 and £9,000 for a 3.5kW system. If we look at MCS data, the average cost of solar panels in 2022 was £7,414, but prices have gone up recently. Installing solar panels in Wales in 2023 will now set you back £8,945 on average.
You can see how prices have been affected since 2022 in the graph below.
What Affects the Cost of Solar Panels?
Solar panels within Wales or any other part of the UK will be affected by what you want out of your system. The size, power, installation and whether you want a solar battery will all contribute to cost. If you want to make use of any electricity you generate, a solar battery will be more useful.
Exporting Energy from Solar Panels in Wales
After your solar panels have been installed, you can apply for the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). This is the modern day equivalent of the Feed-in Tariff and energy companies over a certain size are obligated to offer a solar power export rate over £0. By having solar panels in Wales, you can receive money for supplying the grid with your renewable electricity.
If you don’t have a solar battery or you won’t use all your energy, you might be able to make a little money by exporting it. Energy suppliers haven’t made SEG rates competitive enough to warrant relying on it to make money as they are only legally required to do so.
Most suppliers only offer a meagre 2–5p/kWh, which pales in comparison to the price of buying electricity. However, anyone with solar panels in Wales can make use of the highest rate in the UK, which is currently offered by Octopus Energy at 15p/kWh. They also offer a special Flux rate, which was previously reported to be as high as 36.5p/kWh. This is only available for their customers though. Scottish Power offers a 12p/kWh SEG rate for everyone if you don’t fancy switching suppliers.
Are There Solar Panel Grants in Wales?
There are a few ways you might be able to benefit from solar panels within Wales with financial help. The Welsh Government can offer targeted support for households that may be unable to afford improving the energy efficiency of their home.
You may be able to receive solar panels in Wales with the following schemes or grants:
The Welsh Government is determined to reduce the impact of climate change, end fuel poverty and help regenerate Wales. The Warm Homes Nest scheme offers free advice as well as free energy improvements, such as free solar panels in Wales, for anyone who is eligible. These include solar panels, boilers, central heating and heat pumps. The idea is to help people make energy improvements to their homes in order to lower their household bills and eliminate energy poverty altogether.
You may be able to receive solar panels within Wales even if your financial situation isn’t particularly robust. Any household on benefits will not have the funds available to improve their home to benefit from PV systems, so the Nest scheme is designed to remove the stress involved with the financials. Generating your own electricity for your home is just one way in which you can lower your energy bills.
You may be able to receive free energy upgrades if the following applies:
You own your home or rent it privately (not through a council or housing association)
You have an energy inefficient home and it is expensive to heat
You, or someone you live with, receives a means tested benefit or a chronic respiratory, circulatory or mental health condition
You must also have a household income below certain thresholds
To find out if you qualify for free solar panels in Wales, you can call Nest on 0808 808 2244 or check your eligibility on their website.
The ECO4 scheme is a UK-wide initiative that is the latest (and last) phase in a scheme that has been operating since 2013. ECO4 has been running since April 2022 and gives you the opportunity to apply for solar panels in Wales and the rest of the UK. Much like the Welsh Nest scheme, ECO4 is designed to help install energy saving measures, such as insulation and double glazing. Upgrading heating systems also incorporates solar panels.
ECO4 is set to run until 31st March 2026. Together with the Great British Insulation Scheme (formerly ECO+), funding has been set aside for hundreds of thousands of households across the UK to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.
You might qualify for solar panels in Wales if the following applies:
You own your home or are a landlord or private tenant
You receive income-related benefits
You have electric storage heaters
Eligibility is slightly relaxed under the Local Authority Flex and Delivery Scheme (LADS). If you do not meet the criteria for benefits, your local authority can approve your application instead. This is only reserved for those in fuel poverty or on a low income.
You can apply for the ECO4 scheme through your energy supplier. Information about having solar panels installed in Wales and any other part of the country through ECO4 can be found on The Renewable Energy Hub.
While not a grant, there is a discount available when buying solar panels. Since April 2022, VAT has been scrapped on solar panels. While this may not sound like a particularly exciting concept, dropping VAT from 5% to 0% has the potential to lower the cost of installation by £1,000. If you don’t qualify for Nest or ECO4, this might make installing solar panels in Wales more affordable for you.
The reduction in VAT is valid until 2027, so there’s time to make use of this benefit. It also applies to other energy efficient systems, like heat pumps. If there is any intervention by the government to increase uptake in line with net zero targets, this will be announced at a later date.
Solar Panels in Wales: The Verdict
Considering that the country has a brilliant average for sunshine throughout the year and that there are ways of receiving solar panels in Wales for free or at a discounted rate through various grants, where’s the downside? The Welsh Government is keen to increase its stock of renewables, from solar to wind and everything in between. In 2021, solar panels for Wales became more abundant thanks to four new solar farms, which totalled 21 megawatts of power.
In terms of residential solar panels in Wales, these can reduce your reliance on the grid, which is still largely powered by fossil fuels. As the government is determined to achieve 70% renewable generation by 2030, you can help as an individual by covering your home’s needs and exporting any surplus back.
Local installers can help you find the best deal for you. They will make sure any qualifying discounts are automatically applied. Use the button below to fill in your details and get a local quote for solar panels in Wales.