More Than 125,000 UK Homes Installed Solar PV Last Year

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More than 125,000 homes in the UK installed solar PV systems on their roofs last year, according to the latest statistics on small-scale installations from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

In addition to these numbers regarding small-scale installations, the statistics also revealed that around 700 MW of solar power capacity was installed on commercial buildings and in ground-mounted solar farms last year as well. That’s the equivalent of providing all the electricity needed for ~212,000 homes.

Uk flag

Accompanying the release of these statistics was also the announcement of the tariffs to be paid out for the April–June period beginning in a few months.

The growth seen in the residential sector in 2014 (as demonstrated by the above figures) means that, for the first time in a few years (since 2012), the tariff paid out for the residential class is being reduced not because of the automatic reduction that occurs every nine months, but because of the actual figures.

Residential wasn’t the only sector that saw growth though — solar PV installations between 10 kW and 50 kW in size (schools, village halls, small businesses) rose by more than 50% between October and December 2014 as compared against the previous three months.


A business analyst at the Solar Trade Association, David Pickup, commented on the figures thusly:

We are particularly pleased to see good levels of growth in the large rooftop market with 33 MW of solar — 164 installations — installed in the last three months of 2014, more than double that in the previous quarter.

But this isn’t enough — as we have shown in our model of the Feed in Tariff budget, we need to see more solar going up on roofs and more gradual reductions in the tariff to get to the industry’s goal of subsidy-free solar. Our Solar Independence Plan sets out how we can restructure the Feed in Tariff to get more solar for very little extra money and give a path to zero subsidy.

As it stands, the biggest projects that qualify for the feed-in tariff — projects between 50 kW and 5 MW in size — saw a fairly high rate of deployment, high enough to result in a lowered tariff (this was due to happen anyways, though).

“A word of warning on larger rooftop and smaller or community solar farm projects,” Pickup continued: “if the FiT is not redesigned along the lines of our Solar Independence Plan to allow more room for growth for systems of this size, the tariff could soon reduce to almost nothing — snuffing out this key market as it gets going.”

Those interested in digging further can find the stats here.

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

James Ayre has 4830 posts and counting. See all posts by James Ayre

9 thoughts on “More Than 125,000 UK Homes Installed Solar PV Last Year

  • With the right FIT program most places can follow in the German footsteps!

  • Once there are no subsidies people may consider coming off grid. If you opt for a low voltage dc system you reduce the cost of the system by £1,000 as you don’t need the inverter. And you avoid the losses of ac/dc conversion. The £1,000 savings can contribute to storage. Most household appliances have versions running off low voltage dc.

    Am considering this for myself. Anything I am missing?

    • People used to do this off grid in Australia, run everything off DC, first to save on generator fuel and later because solar PV used to be very expensive. But now with the lower cost of inverters and solar panels it is not really done anymore. The convenience of being on the same standard as everyone else and being able to use conventional appliances outweighs other savings and improved efficiency. I expect things would be much the same in the UK even though costs aren’t as low as here.

    • I’ve been off the grid for over 25 years. I doubt many people will go off grid if they have reasonable access and their electricity prices are exorbitant as they are in Australia and Hawaii.

      If you go offgrid with solar you’ll need storage. The least expensive storage I’ve found is about 15 cents/kWh. I use a very small amount of electricity compared to the average house and my batteries cost me about $40 per month.

      And if you live in a place that has multiple days in a row with no sunshine you’ll need backup generation. Most likely a gas generator which will have to be fueled. That is not cheap.

      Then there’s the inconvenience factor. If you go away during times when the sun might not shine (and don’t have an automatic start generator with a very large fuel source) you’ll have to shut down the house. Everything in the refer and freezer has to be eaten or taken to a new home.

      I know a lot of people who are off the grid. While some led low DC lives 30 years ago I know of no one who has continued. It’s just too limiting.

    • Why would you want until you don’t get a subsidy?

      • Cheers for the replies.

        I may have to wait as was turned down finance – which surprised both Hanergy and myself. Turns out that as I have financed the outright purchase of my ev, a Nissan Leaf, over 5 years, this makes them unwilling to risk further lending. Understandable – though the fuel savings for me pay for the monthly payments – still guess they have to anticipate what would happen if I lost my income.

        My electricity use is excluding the ev minimal. No tv, fridge freezer (I shop daily) and my only pc is the smart phone I type this on. Just lighting (led) washing machine (though considering Scrubba bag as an alternative). Long term am working for a lifestyle of little regular driving and the ev charged directly from dc – though not really a chademo option affordably yet.

        Generally though the simplicity of low voltage ac solar + storage appeals

        • Cool! I would love to get my hands on a volt. I live in an apartment though. So that wont help me with charging the volt or the solar bit. Sadly.

        • First off apologies for taking so long to get to you on your question about going offgrid, but life gets busy at times.
          Having been offgrid for almost ten years this comment isn’t really to suggest doing so or not, but provide a lot of questions and concerns for you to decide yourself. When we did so it was in part because I had wanted to go solar for a long time, but the clincher was the extremely high cost of getting power lines run to the home we were building.
          You mentioned how your usage of electricity is fairly low now, but I wonder have you considered what is to be done about home heating or cooling, water heating and supply. You may be able to do without refrigeration, but the energy needs for cooking need to be considered, and while it sounds like it is just you for right now, the needs of a future partner or progeny need to be considered also.
          As for just using DC if you go offgrid it is possible, but non grid tied inverters are much less expensive and finding AC appliances that are very energy efficient relatively easy so you might want to consider having both. Our refrigerator, freezers, and water pumps run off from DC, but other kitchen appliances and clothes washer can all be powered individually from just a thousand watt inverter. We are actually using a 3 Kw inverter, but just want you to realize that low power draw AC device’s are available. When you actually get to doing things offgrid the conversion efficiency becomes a very small part of your consideration as compared to just having things working.
          If you really want to do this the best place to start is going to be in efficiencies, figuring out all of the different places that you use energy, what provides it, and getting that usage as low as possible. Panels have gotten to be fairly inexpensive, but storage is going to be a big concern and expense, and once you disconnect you won’t have the power company to take up your surplus and feed it back when it is raining or nighttime.
          One last thought, since you have found out that a loan to get a big solar system for everything isn’t possible now, perhaps you can start isolating different energy needs and take one at a time offgrid. This could make it economical enough to do without financing, and give you the practical experience to see if you really want to do it with your whole home.

  • The commercial sector in the UK still lags behind the booming residential and utility ones. 164 large rooftop projects totalling 33 MW in 3 months is very little in a country pf 60 million. The government would like to shift larger-scale solar development from greenfield to brownfield sites, but it plainly hasn’t fixed all the obstacles facing the latter.

Comments are closed.