The latest data from MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme) shows UK homeowners are turning to renewables and installing low-carbon energy and heating technologies in record numbers.
In 2023, so far, a total of 220,500 MCS certified installations have been registered, beating the end of year figures for 2022, which was already the most successful year for small-scale renewable installations since records began in 2008.
There was substantial growth of solar PV installations in 2023, with the total number of installations in 2022 – itself the most successful year for rooftop solar since the closure of the Feed-In Tariff (FiT) – being surpassed in the first nine months of the year alone. So far this year, there have been 183,022 certified solar PV installations across the UK, exceeding the 138,000 in 2022 by one third.
- MCS data shows 2023 has outmatched every previous year on record for small-scale renewables
- Solar PV continues to be the most popular renewable technology, with 2023 beating 2022 deployment by September
- Record year for heat pumps with more than 37,000 certified installations registered
- The scheme now certifies over 4,400 contractors across the UK
Solar PV installations have continued to grow since the FiT closed in 2019, demonstrating that the technology is still saving consumers money on their energy bills and providing them with the carbon savings and energy independence without subsidy.
As more homeowners explore options to better utilise their home-grown energy, Battery Storage has become the third most popular tech type to be installed amongst the MCS certified contractor base. At the end of 2022, there were 50 contractors certified to install the technology, and there are now over 850. Installations have seen a similar growth with 4,400 of the 4,700 certified batteries being installed in 2023, and almost 800 of those in November alone.
Speaking on the continued growth of domestic solar, Solar Energy UK Chief Executive Chris Hewett said: “It’s no wonder that people are queuing up to go solar. Installing a solar energy system is one of the best investments available to homeowners and businesses alike.
“Electricity bills remain stubbornly high, and all expectations are that they will remain so for the foreseeable future. In contrast, solar provides cheap, decarbonised power and normally pays for itself in a few years.”
MCS data also shows that heat pumps have seen a significant rise in popularity in 2023 with more than 35,000 installations registered between air source and ground/water source technologies, a record year for UK heat pump installations. This figure brought the UK to over 200,000 certified heat pump installations in total since 2008. Heat pumps show sustained growth in the UK with each of the six previous years surpassing the one before for certified installations.
Heat pump uptake remained high in the second year of the Government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS), which launched in May 2022 to encourage households across England and Wales to access a grant to replace their boiler with a more environmentally friendly heating system.
In October this year, the grant value for heat pumps was increased to £7,500, opening up the possibility of owning a heat pump to thousands of homeowners. Since the increase of the grant value, average weekly applications for BUS vouchers soared from 331 to 1,172, reflecting the impact of supportive Government policy on deploying important low-carbon technology.
To date, more than 17,500 BUS vouchers have been issued with a value over £90 million; under the scheme, the government aims to support increasing heat pump deployment in line with ambitions to install 600,000 heat pumps annually by 2028.
On the growing deployment of heat pumps in the UK, Charlotte Lee, CEO of the Heat Pump Association told us: “It is promising to see this growth in the UK heat pump market and we celebrate that more and more homeowners can access low-carbon technology to keep their homes warm, comfortable, and energy efficient.
“Whilst we are pleased that the BUS grant has been increased, we would encourage the Government to take further steps to demonstrate the national commitment to low-carbon heating. It is vital that the overall budget for BUS is increased to support greater heat pump deployment and to ensure it does not act as an artificial cap on the market. Other vital policy enablers include reducing the price of electricity relative to the price of gas and supporting contractors to cover the costs of becoming certified to install heat pumps, akin to the support offered in Scotland.”
In October, MCS certified their 4,000th contractor, reflecting the demand for more skilled, competent installers to deliver low-carbon energy and heating technology for UK consumers. More than 1,800 new contractors have become certified in 2023 so far, a 70% growth in the contractor base since the end of 2022. In fact, more contractors have joined the scheme in 2023 so far than in the previous six years of the scheme combined.
At the end of 2022, MCS had fewer than 2,000 solar PV contractors – today, they have over 3,300. This growth mirrors the rapid rise in certified solar PV installations across the UK and the growing demand amongst homeowners to generate their own home-grown electricity, reducing energy bills, claiming energy independence, and decreasing their carbon footprint.
MCS hopes to mirror this sustained growth in the number of businesses and trained individuals installing low-carbon heating technology too. Earlier this year, they launched the UK’s first Low Carbon Heating Technician apprenticeship. The apprenticeship received praise from a group of independent experts assembled by the Department for Education who selected it as one of six apprenticeships to display the King’s Coronation Emblem in recognition of its sustainability goals and efforts to create a dedicated pipeline of talent into the green workforce.
Discussing the success of UK renewables, Ian Rippin, CEO of MCS, said: “It’s a pleasure to report on another record-breaking year for small-scale renewables, illustrating the sector’s sustained upward growth. We had an incredibly busy 2023 and the data confirms the progress we’ve made. The future of small-scale renewable installations is becoming increasingly important, and we continue to play a crucial role in the decarbonisation of the UK’s homes.
“The growth we’ve seen in domestic renewable electricity systems over the past year may also give some insight into the growing consumer reliance on home-grown energy in the UK during the cost-of-living and energy crises. As electricity prices skyrocket, more people are turning to renewable solutions to generate their own power at home, secure energy independence, decrease their electricity bills, and reduce their carbon footprint.
“In the year we revealed our plans to redevelop the MCS scheme to unleash the industry, it is promising to see more and more people have confidence in home-grown energy.
“Since MCS began recording installations, we have seen more than 1.7million certified systems go into UK homes. This was achieved through the hard work of our ever-growing contractor base, which now includes more than 4,000 businesses. It is clear that MCS will play an increasingly important role in the future of the industry and the scheme updates coming next year will ensure it’s fit for purpose for the growth in industry.”
For near-real-time updates on installations, register free now to use the MCS Data Dashboard and track trends and opportunities in the uptake of small-scale renewables across the UK.