Is Solar Power Worth It In The Uk?

Is solar power worth it in the UK?

Solar power in the UK has experienced significant growth and attention in recent years. According to the Statista and Mordor Intelligence sources, total solar PV installed capacity has grown from just 5 gigawatts in 2014 to over 13 gigawatts as of 2019, with projections for continued strong growth in the years ahead. This growth has been driven by falling costs for solar panels, government incentives, and increased public interest in renewable energy.

The UK public and policymakers have become much more interested in solar power and renewable energy more broadly. Solar energy is seen as a key part of strategies to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate climate change. There is also interest in increasing energy independence and security through local renewable generation. With costs continuing to fall, solar power is becoming economically viable for more homes and businesses in the UK.

This article will examine if solar power is worth it for UK homeowners and businesses given the costs, savings, incentives, environmental benefits, limitations, and future outlook. With strong recent growth trends, solar power merits an in-depth look at its current and future viability in the UK energy mix.


The upfront cost of installing solar panels in the UK can range from £5,000 to £8,000 for a typical household system size of 3-5kW, according to Greenmatch ( This covers the solar panels themselves, inverter, mounting equipment and installation labor. The largest portion of the overall cost is the solar panels, which on average cost £1,500 to £2,500 per kW installed. Inverters usually cost around £600 to £1,000 for a standard household system.

Compared to average residential electricity rates of around 15p/kWh from the grid, the installation cost of solar equates to about 8-12 years to break even and start saving money. However, solar panel costs have dropped substantially over the years, making payback periods shorter than ever before. With incentives like the Smart Export Guarantee, payback can be reduced to 5-7 years for an optimally designed system (


Installing solar panels can lead to significant savings on your energy bills. According to the Energy Saving Trust, in London a photovoltaic system could save you between £165 and £525 a year from lowering your energy bill. In areas like the South West, savings could be even higher at around £440 to £630 per year [1].

The return on investment timeframe for solar panels in the UK is estimated to be between 7-12 years [2]. This compares favorably to other investments like stocks and bonds which often have longer payback periods. The exact savings and ROI will depend on factors like your location, system size, electricity usage, and electricity prices.

One analysis shows solar panels can provide returns of 4-8%, making it a relatively attractive investment compared to savings accounts or government bonds [3]. However, as with any investment, there are risks and maintenance costs that need to be factored in when evaluating solar panels.


There are several government incentives available to help make solar power more affordable in the UK. One of the main incentives is the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme, which requires energy suppliers to pay households for excess electricity exported back to the grid from solar panels. The amount paid varies by supplier, but rates are typically around 5p/kWh exported. According to the UK government, the average household with solar panels could earn over £200 per year through SEG payments

Another incentive is the reduced 5% VAT rate on the installation of solar panels, energy storage systems and other renewable technologies, making these systems more affordable upfront. There are also exemptions from the Climate Change Levy for renewable electricity generated and used onsite. Some local authorities and housing associations offer grants or subsidized solar installations as well. Additionally, businesses installing solar can claim tax relief and enhanced capital allowances which improve ROI.

Environmental Benefits

Solar power offers significant environmental benefits compared to fossil fuels. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, generating electricity from solar photovoltaics produces no air pollution, carbon dioxide emissions, or any hazardous waste ( Solar PV offers a clean alternative to fossil fuels that emit greenhouse gases linked to climate change.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates solar PV results in 0.07 to 0.2 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalents per kilowatt-hour, while coal produces 2.21 pounds and natural gas produces 1.22 pounds per kWh. Replacing fossil fuel energy with solar PV could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by hundreds of millions of metric tons over the next 20 years, according to EPA data (

Overall, solar energy has an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change impacts when it displaces fossil fuel electricity generation.


While solar power has many advantages, it also comes with some limitations that need to be considered. One of the main limitations is intermittency – solar panels only produce energy when the sun is shining. This can cause issues for meeting energy demand when the sun isn’t shining, such as at night or on cloudy days. Battery storage can help mitigate this issue by storing excess solar energy for use when needed, but adds extra costs. [1]

The amount of solar energy that can be fed into the grid is also limited. As more homes and businesses install solar panels, this puts more strain on the electrical grid that may not have been designed to handle two-way energy transmission. Upgrades to the grid infrastructure may be needed to support widespread solar adoption. [2]

Solar power is heavily dependent on the weather and the UK’s climate isn’t always ideal for solar generation. Solar panels produce the most energy on sunny, cloudless days but the UK’s weather can be unpredictable with rain, clouds, and limited daylight hours in the winter. Locations farther north also receive less annual sunlight overall. This can restrict the solar energy potential for some regions of the country.

While solar power has made great strides in improving efficiency and costs, there are still limitations like intermittency, grid constraints, and weather dependence that need to be factored in. However, new technologies and supporting infrastructure investments can help maximize solar energy potential in the UK.

New Technologies

Some exciting new innovations are improving the capabilities and cost-effectiveness of solar power. New solar cell technologies like tandem cells use multiple materials to absorb more of the sun’s energy. This can lead to higher efficiency panels. Battery storage is also advancing, with batteries like Tesla’s Powerwall allowing solar homeowners to store excess energy for use when the sun isn’t shining.

Smart energy management systems can help optimize solar energy use by forecasting weather and energy demand. Vehicle-to-grid integration lets EV owners power their homes with stored energy from their cars. These new technologies are making solar power more reliable and grid-friendly. With continuing innovation, solar is positioned to play an even bigger role in the future energy mix.

Case Studies

There are numerous examples of successful solar installations in residential and commercial settings across the UK. Solar companies like Solarsense highlight installations on family homes that generate significant savings on electricity bills. One case study shows an 8.82 kWp system installed on a home in Cheshire that produces around 7,600 kWh per year, providing the homeowners savings of over £900 annually.

For commercial projects, companies like Joju Solar have installed large systems on warehouses, factories, schools and commercial buildings. One case study profiles a 99 kWp system installed on a warehouse facility in Reading, generating 86,000 kWh of electricity annually and reducing the company’s carbon footprint by over 40 tonnes per year.

Another company, Empower Energy, highlights a 68 kWp system installed across two barn rooftops at a farm in Dorset. The system generates 55,000 kWh per year, covering around 70% of the farm’s annual electricity usage.

These case studies demonstrate how solar can generate significant cost savings and provide environmental benefits for both homeowners and businesses across the UK.

Future Outlook

The future looks bright for solar power in the UK. According to the Global Market Outlook report by SolarPower Europe, solar capacity is projected to grow by 45% annually through 2027 globally [1]. The UK is expected to be a major contributor to this growth.

One report predicts the UK’s solar capacity will reach over 35 GW by 2030, up from around 14 GW in 2022 [2]. This is driven by rapidly decreasing costs as technology improves. The cost of solar panels has dropped 89% in the last decade and is projected to fall further as production scales up, making solar increasingly cost-competitive with fossil fuels.

In addition, new technologies like solar integrated roof tiles and perovskite solar cells could boost efficiencies and lower costs even more in the coming years. If projections hold true, solar will likely continue displacing fossil fuel generation and play a major role in the UK’s renewable energy mix going forward.


In summary, installing solar panels on your home in the UK can be worth it, depending on your specific circumstances. The upfront costs of purchasing and installing a solar PV system can be high, but the long-term energy bill savings, export payments, and environmental benefits can make it a sound investment for many homeowners.

With solar panel prices having dropped significantly in recent years, return on investment timelines are becoming shorter. Government incentives like the Smart Export Guarantee also help improve the financial case for going solar.

That said, solar PV is not right for every home. If your roof is unsuitable or shaded, the savings may not outweigh the costs. Solar is most economic when matched with high electricity usage, so larger homes with electric vehicles and heating stand to benefit the most.

Looking ahead, solar power is likely to continue growing in popularity and affordability. New solar roof tiles and battery storage options will also help maximize solar self-consumption and financial returns. With the environmental imperative to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, solar PV can provide households with energy bill resilience and support the transition to clean energy.

For most homeowners able to install an adequately sized solar system, the long-term energy and cost savings are worthwhile. Speak to reputable solar installers to fully understand the costs and projected savings to determine if going solar could be a smart decision for your household.

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