The installation of solar panels and heat pumps in UK homes soared in 2023, driving the country to its highest-ever level of domestic low-carbon technology upgrades. According to the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS), registered solar photovoltaic (PV) installations rose nearly 30% to a post-subsidy record of 189,826, while heat-pump installations increased by 20%, reaching a record 36,799. This growth led to a UK record of 229,618 total domestic renewable electricity and low-carbon heat technologies installations registered by MCS.
The surge in solar PV installations in 2023 is particularly noteworthy as it took place without any government support, unlike previous growth driven by the Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) subsidy scheme that ended in 2019. The total MCS-certified installations of solar PV now reach 1,441,753 since 2009, equivalent to more than 5% of all UK households.
According to Solar Energy UK chief executive Chris Hewett, setting a post-subsidy record of almost 190,000 smaller-scale solar PV installations in 2023 is truly a moment to celebrate. He mentioned that the solar industry is on a roll as the government-industry Solar Taskforce’s roadmap for delivering 70GW of capacity will be published soon.
In terms of heat pumps, 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. The BUS initially offered a £5,000 grant for ASHP or biomass boiler installations, which was increased to £7,500 in October 2023. The visibility of the technology has also been enhanced by high-profile campaigns from Octopus, Good Energy, and OVO, along with time-of-use tariffs that improve financial benefits.
Despite these significant growth rates, the installation of heat pumps still falls short of the UK government’s target of 600,000 installations per year by 2028.
Regarding battery storage installations, while the MCS dashboard does not provide specific data, recent releases indicate that 2023 was a record-breaking year for this technology. MCS reports that batteries were the third most popular technology type installed in homes by certified contractors, with 4,400 installed out of the 4,700 certified batteries registered with MCS.
With the energy price cap on average domestic energy bills now below £2,000 per year and installation costs having increased with inflation, the sustainability of high levels of solar PV installations in 2023 remains uncertain. Gareth Simkins, chief communications officer at Solar Energy UK, believes it is reasonable for the current deployment rates of around 15,000 installations per month to continue, including retrofits and an expectation of more new-build homes incorporating solar technology.