The number of Solar Panels and Heat Pumps installed soared across 2023

January 31, 2024

Solar panel and heat pump installations in UK homes soared in 2023, propelling the country to its highest-ever level of domestic low-carbon technology upgrades. According to the Microgeneration Certificate Scheme (MCS), registered solar photovoltaic (PV) installations surged nearly 30% to post-subsidy record of 189,826, while heat pump installations rose by 20% to a record 36,799.

This growth led to a UK record for the total number of domestic renewable electricity and low-carbon heat technologies installations registered by MCS, reaching an impressive 299,618. Since 2009, the total MCS-certified installations of solar PV have reached 1,44,753, equivalent to more than 5% of all UK households.

The near-record figure for home solar in 2023 is particularly noteworthy as it occurred without any government support, unlike previous growth driven by deadlines under the Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) subsidy scheme, which ended in 2019.

Despite this milestone, the UK had already recorded its "best-ever" year for renewable energy and low-carbon heat installations before 2023 came to an end. While solar PV and air-source heat pumps (ASHP) saw growth in their installation rates in 2023, other clean technologies experienced a decline.

The number of MCS-registered ASHP installations grew to a record 36,799 in 2023, driven by increasing activity from "early movers" and the boiler upgrade scheme (BUS) subsidy introduced in 2022 and expanded in 2023.

However, the surge in ASHP installations contrasts with a decrease in ground-source heat pump (GSHP) installations and a significant drop in solar-thermal installations. This disparity is attributed to the comparatively lower value of the BUS for GSHPs and the government's focus on supporting ASHPs.

Despite the overall increase in low-carbon heating technologies, the installation of heat pumps still falls short of the UK government's target of 600,000 installations per year by 2028.

While MCS does not provide data on battery storage installations, a recent release from the company indicates that 2023 was a record-breaking year for the technology. Of the 4700 certified batteries registered with MCS, 4400 were installed in 2023.

The surge in solar PV installations in 2023 occurred against the backdrop of rising installation costs due to inflationary impacts from the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent energy crisis. Despite the increase in costs, solar technology remains appealing, driven by rising energy bills and longer-term falls in technology costs.

Looking ahead, the solar industry anticipates continued growth, with installation rates expected to remain steady. As installation costs gradually decrease and solar modules become more accessible, the momentum for solar adoption is expected to persist, contributing to the UK's transition to cleaner energy sources.

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