The UK sees the best year for the installation of renewable energy and heating

The UK sees the best year for the installation of renewable energy and heating

The latest data from MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme), the standards organisation for homegrown renewable energy and heating technology across the UK, shows that homeowners in the UK are switching to renewables and installing low carbon energy and heating technologies in record numbers.

So far, in 2023, a total of 220,500 MCS-certified installations have been registered, surpassing 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 2023. So far this year, there have been 183,022 certified solar PV installations across the UK, exceeding the 138,000 in 2022 by a third.

Solar PV installations have continued to grow since the FiT closed in 2019, demonstrating how the technology saves consumers money on their energy bills whilst providing them carbon savings and energy independence without subsidy.

As more homeowners explore options that better utilise their homegrown 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, 50 certified contractors installed the technology, and there are now over 850. Installations have seen similar growth with certified batteries, 4,400 of the 4,700 being installed in 2023 and almost 800 in November alone.

MCS data also shows the significant rise in popularity of the heat pump in 2023, with more than 35,000 installations registered between air source and ground/water source technologies, making it a record year for UK heat pump installations. In total, this figure brought the UK over 200,000 certified heat pump installations since 2008. Heat pumps show sustained growth in the UK, each of the six previous years surpassing the one before.

Heat pump uptake remained high in the second year of the government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS), which launched in May 2022, encouraging households across England and Wales to access a grant to replace their boiler with an environmentally friendly heating system.

In October this year, the grant value for heat pumps was increased to £7,500, opening 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 of 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.

In October, MCS certified its 4,000th contractor, reflecting the demand for more skilled, competent installers in delivering low carbon energy and heating technology for UK consumers. So far, more than 1,800 new contractors have become certified in 2023, a 70% growth in the contractor base since the end of 2022.

At the end of 2022, MCS had fewer than 2,000 solar PV contractors, but today it has increased to over 3,300. This growth mirrors the rapid rise in certified solar PV installations across the UK and the growing demand for homeowners to generate homegrown electricity. By doing so, homeowners can reduce energy bills, claim energy independence, and decrease their carbon footprint.

MCS says it hopes to mirror this sustained growth in the number of businesses and trained individuals installing low carbon heating technology. Earlier this year, it 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.

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