Solar PV on the rise in the UK with solar power increasing its market share

A housing estate viewed from above with solar panels on roofs visible plus a solar farm in the background
Solar power has reached record high in terms of output and increased its overall market share in the renewables market in September (Image credit: Getty)

A new study examining government data shows a 40% increase in the installation of Solar Photovoltaic (PV) panels in UK properties over the past five years, with a 15% rise in the last year. 

The study looked at data from the Office of National Statistics about the number of Solar PV installations in the UK and their contribution to the country's energy capacity.

This research revealed that renewable energy sources now make up 47.7% of all electricity produced in the UK, marking a new high and a yearly increase of 2.4%. Solar PV has become the second-largest source of renewable energy in the UK, right behind wind power, that doesn't release carbon directly into the atmosphere.

Solar PV panel installations surge by 40%

The number of homeowners and homebuilders installing solar panels has gone up 40% in the last five years, with a 15% increase in the past year alone, according to a study analysing government data by Logic4training.

The analysis also looked at Google search data, showing a 22% year-on-year increase in online searches for information about buying or installing solar panels.

This rise is expected to continue as annual inquiries for solar PV were shown to have risen by 1,800% in the study, defying a previous prediction by industry experts that MCS accreditation could slow down installation figures.

Mark Krull at Logic4training said: "As the UK continues on its path to Net Zero, the rising popularity of solar PV provides an increasingly cost-effective option for homeowners and businesses looking to reduce their energy bills and cut carbon footprints."

Installers putting in solar panels on top of a roof

Solar panels have shown to have risen by 40% in the last 5 years with 15% of this rise being in the last year alone (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Solar PV's growing impact on UK energy

In the UK, solar PV is one of the fastest-growing renewable technologies, contributing 4.1% of the total electricity generated, a significant increase from 0.4% a decade ago. 

Government data shows that since 2019, solar PV has added 20% of new energy capacity (0.9 GWH), making it the second-largest renewable energy contributor after Wind power.

Government data for September also revealed that in the second quarter of 2023, solar power, due to minimal wind speeds, gained its largest share of the renewables market with 8.6%, showing its growing importance to the UK energy market.

Why is solar power on the rise?

There are a number of reasons why solar PV is proving more popular with homeowners and no longer an afterthought to those looking to build a house.

Solar PV panel's main attraction is they help homeowners save on energy costs by utilising unused roof space, which provides a practical and convenient solution to avoid potential energy price rises.

Additionally, they boost a building's compliance with EPC ratings, whilst requiring minimal maintenance.

UK developers are also increasingly adopting solar PV installation to reduce carbon emissions in newly constructed buildings as many are preparing for the impending Future Homes Standard, which will require new homes to produce 75-80% less carbon emissions in 2025.

Mark Krull also noted the declining costs of installing solar PV panels are also encouraging installations as he stated: "The price of solar photovoltaic hardware has come down considerably over the last ten years, which, combined with souring electricity prices, has created the perfect storm for market growth."

What support is there for those looking for grants?

To support the UK government's goal of achieving 70GW of solar capacity by 2035, several significant measures have been introduced.

The government has allocated £4 billion to the Energy Company Obligation Scheme, which aims to boost renewable energy installations, including solar panels. 

Rishi Sunak also in early 2022 announced a substantial reduction in VAT for solar panels, down to 0% for a five-year period. This tax incentive is designed to encourage more people to adopt solar panels and streamline the process of obtaining planning permission for solar panels.

Additional solar panel grants are expected in the coming year as part of the Energy Security Bill, which will help offset installation costs.

Joseph Mullane
News Editor

News Editor Joseph has previously written for Today’s Media and Chambers & Partners, focusing on news for conveyancers and industry professionals.  Joseph has just started his own self build project, building his own home on his family’s farm with planning permission for a timber frame, three-bedroom house in a one-acre field. The foundation work has already begun and he hopes to have the home built in the next year. Prior to this he renovated his family's home as well as doing several DIY projects, including installing a shower, building sheds, and livestock fences and shelters for the farm’s animals. Outside of homebuilding, Joseph loves rugby and has written for Rugby World, the world’s largest rugby magazine.