What Percentage Of Uk Homes Have Solar?

What percentage of UK homes have solar?

Solar energy has seen rapid growth in adoption in the UK over the past decade. The UK has abundant solar resources with over 1200–1600 sunlight hours per year on average. With government incentives, falling costs of solar panels, and increased public awareness of renewable energy, more and more homes in the UK are choosing to install solar panels. In 2012, there were under 300,000 solar homes, but by 2022 there were over 1 million solar homes in the UK. However, solar still only accounts for around 3-4% of total energy generation in the UK. There is still ample room for growth in solar adoption to help the UK meet its climate change goals and transition to clean energy. This article provides an overview of the current state of residential solar adoption in the UK.


[1] https://www.marley.co.uk/blog/solar-adoption-in-2023

Current Percentage of Homes with Solar

According to the latest data from the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS), there are over 1.3 million UK homes with solar panel installations as of April 2023. This represents around 4.1% of the total 29 million households in the UK [1]. While solar adoption is rising steadily, 96% of homes still do not have solar panels or solar hot water systems installed.

The number of homes adding new solar panels reached a 7-year high in 2022, with over 200,000 installations according to the Solar Trade Association (STA) [2]. However, the overall percentage remains low compared to leading European countries. The UK currently ranks 5th in Europe for total installed solar capacity.

Growth Trends

The adoption of solar panels in the UK has seen impressive growth over the past decade. According to Solarplanet.uk, the amount of installed solar capacity has risen from under 1 GW in 2010 to over 14 GW by the end of 2022. This represents a more than 14-fold increase in just over 10 years.

A report by LinkedIn indicates that the UK solar market grew by nearly 30% in 2021 alone. Approximately 4 GW of new solar capacity was added in 2021, continuing the strong upward trend. Much of this growth has been driven by the plummeting costs of solar panels, as well as government incentives like the feed-in tariff scheme.

Industry projections expect the growth to continue, with the UK solar capacity potentially reaching 15 GW in 2023 if the current 4% annual growth rate is maintained, according to Marley’s analysis. This would represent a doubling of capacity compared to just 5 years ago in 2018. Clearly, solar adoption has rapidly accelerated in the UK, transforming from a niche source to a mainstream renewable technology within a decade.

Regional Differences

There are significant differences in solar adoption rates across different regions of the UK. According to research from Solar Planet, the South West has consistently had the highest percentage of homes with solar panels installed. As of 2022, over 20% of homes in the South West had solar panels. The South East and East of England also have relatively high adoption rates, with 15% and 13% of homes having solar panels respectively.

In comparison, solar adoption in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has lagged behind England. For example, only around 6% of homes in Scotland have solar panels installed. This is likely due to less sunny weather as well as different energy policies and incentives between England and the devolved nations.

Within England, rural and suburban areas tend to have higher solar adoption than major cities. This is often attributed to factors like more roof space and higher electricity prices in rural areas. Additionally, homeowners are more likely to install solar than renters or those in public housing.

Solar Incentives

There are several government incentives available to help UK households install solar panels. The main schemes are:

The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) – This requires energy suppliers to pay households for excess electricity exported back to the grid from solar panels. Rates vary by supplier but are typically around 5p/kWh.

ECO4 – This scheme from the government provides funding for energy efficiency measures like solar panels for low income households. Grants of up to £10,000 are available based on eligibility.

Home Upgrade Grant – This provides up to £5,000 for low carbon heating and renewable energy installations. Solar panels are covered under this grant.

In addition, homes installing solar panels are eligible for significantly reduced VAT of 5% rather than the usual 20%. This provides an upfront discount on the system cost.

There are also some regional and local grants available such as the London Green Homes Grant covering £4,000 of solar panel installation costs.

Overall, UK households have access to generous incentives to install solar panels and reduce the payback period.


The average cost for a solar PV system for a homeowner in the UK is around £5,000 – £11,000 including the supply and installation, according to Greenmatch. This can vary depending on the size of the system, which is measured in kilowatt peak (kWp). For a typical 3 bedroom house, the average cost for a 3.5 kWp system is around £7,860 according to The Eco Experts.

According to the Independent, the average cost for a 4kW system in the UK is £6,800. This means for a typical home solar system, homeowners can expect to pay somewhere between £6,000 to £8,000 including installation.

The overall costs depend on factors like the type of panels, the size of the system, roof type, and the complexity of the installation. Government incentives like the Smart Export Guarantee can help offset some of these upfront costs for homeowners.

Payback Period

The payback period for solar panels in the UK refers to the amount of time it takes for the initial investment in a solar photovoltaic (PV) system to be recouped through energy bill savings. With rising electricity prices, studies show that the payback period has now dropped to just over 4 years for homes in the UK.

Several factors determine how quickly the costs of solar panels will be recovered, including system size, energy usage patterns, electricity rates, and available solar incentives. Homes that consume more electricity during daylight hours when solar panels are actively producing will generally see faster payback times. Regions with higher electricity prices and better sun exposure will also typically have shorter payback periods.

While the upfront cost of installing a solar PV system can seem high, most homes in the UK can recoup these costs in 5-8 years through electricity bill savings. With warranties of 20-25 years, this leaves over a decade of free electricity generation. With rising energy costs, solar panels represent a smart long-term investment for UK homes looking to take control of electricity expenses.

Environmental Impact

Solar panels provide significant environmental benefits by reducing carbon emissions and mitigating climate change. According to the Energy Saving Trust, a typical home solar PV system in the UK could save around 1.3 to 1.6 tonnes of carbon per year, depending on location1. This is because solar panels generate clean, renewable electricity without producing greenhouse gas emissions.

Over the lifetime of a solar panel, which is usually around 25 years, it can save over 900kg of CO2 per year. This results in a carbon payback period of approximately 1.6 years2. After the initial carbon investment of manufacturing and installing the panels, they provide decades of emissions-free electricity generation. Wide-scale adoption of solar power in the UK could significantly reduce the country’s carbon footprint from electricity production.

Challenges to Wider Adoption

Despite the growth in residential solar adoption, there are still barriers preventing more homeowners in the UK from going solar. Some key challenges include:

High upfront costs – The initial investment for a rooftop solar system averages £6,500-£7,500 according to Wired. This high upfront cost can deter homeowners, especially those with lower incomes.

Lack of ownership – Over 60% of UK households are rented rather than owner-occupied according to LinkedIn. Renters have less incentive and ability to install solar panels.

Unsuitable homes – Many UK homes lack a south-facing roof or sufficient space for solar panels, making them poor candidates for residential solar.

Planning restrictions – Local regulations around building aesthetics sometimes restrict solar installations on visible rooftops and facades.

Low electricity prices – The UK has had relatively low electricity prices compared to other European countries. This reduces the payback period for solar investments.

Lack of incentives – Unlike some other countries, the UK offers minimal incentives and rebates for residential solar, reducing the financial motivation.

Future Projections

Experts predict significant growth in the UK residential solar market over the next decade. According to a recent report by the Solar Energy UK trade association, annual solar PV installations are forecast to increase to over 450,000 per year by 2030, up from around 150,000 in 2022 (https://www.energylivenews.com/2023/07/12/uk-residential-solar-pv-installations-to-increase-to-over-450k-a-year-by-2030/). This rapid growth is attributed to the increasing cost-competitiveness of solar power, rising electricity prices, and greater environmental awareness among homeowners.

Another analysis predicts the total installed solar capacity in the UK will reach up to 35GW by 2030, a dramatic rise from the current level of around 14GW (https://www.solarpowerportal.co.uk/the_uks_solar_landscape_to_2030_factors_driving_growth/). Key factors driving this projected growth include the phasing out of fossil fuels, government decarbonization targets, and the falling costs of solar panels and energy storage solutions. As solar and battery storage becomes more affordable, experts expect mass adoption of rooftop solar across the UK’s housing stock over the coming decade.

To enable this projected expansion, industry groups have called for stable, long-term policy support from the government, as well as initiatives to maximize the utilization of rooftop space and fully unlock the potential of residential solar energy generation. With appropriate measures and sustained growth in installations, solar is expected to become one of the main pillars of a decentralized, decarbonized energy system across the UK.

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