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UK Homes Install ‘record Number’ of Solar Panels and Heat Pumps

British households are making more green energy upgrades than ever before after installing a record number of solar panels and heat pumps in the first half of the year, according to the industry’s official standards body.

The industry figures show there were more green energy installations in June than in previous years.

On average, more than 17,000 households installed solar panels every month this year, while the number of homes installing heat pumps reached 3,000 a month for the first time, according to the data.

Each month of 2023 was a record month for battery technologies, as installation figures consistently surpassed the month before, bringing the total number of batteries installed in homes and businesses across the UK to more than 1,000 in 2023 so far.

The industry’s accreditation body, MCS, said the green energy boom has put households on track to install more renewable energy than the last record set in 2012, when many raced to install solar panels before government subsidies were reduced.

Ian Rippin, the chief executive of MCS, said: “As the cost of energy continues to grow, we are seeing more people turn to renewable technology to generate their own energy and heat at home.”

Small-scale renewable energy installations at homes and businesses across the UK now have a total capacity of 4 gigawatts (GW), greater than the nuclear power plant under construction at Hinkley Point and almost double the capacity of Europe’s biggest gas power plant near Pembroke in Wales.

“We need to continue to push this expansion to meet our shared national ambitions to reach net zero by 2050. More consumers have the confidence to invest in small-scale renewables now than ever, but we have to make that transition even easier,” Rippin said.

The UK government has set targets to reach 70GW of solar capacity by 2035 and to install 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028. But the uptake of heat pumps has fallen far short of the government’s aim, despite £5,000 grants to reduce the cost of replacing an old gas boiler.

In total there were 17,920 heat pump installations in the first six months of 2023, according to MCS data, meaning that if the same pace continued over the second half of the year, heat pump installations would reach just 6% of the government’s target.

Bean Beanland, the director of external affairs at the Heat Pump Federation, said there was “a tremendous job of work to do” to ensure that heat pump technology becomes mainstream over the remainder of this decade.

The accreditation body believes that one of the biggest barriers to the government’s heat pump ambitions is the need to recruit enough qualified, skilled installers to meet the demand for trustworthy advice and installations.

There are 1,500 heat pump installation companies certified in the UK, but an estimated 50,000 workers will be needed to meet government targets. So far this year, more than 850 new contractors have become MCS certified, more than the number who signed up during the whole of 2022.

Beanland added: “It is essential that the lowest-carbon heat becomes the lowest-cost heat, so that homeowners and landlords can justify the transition away from polluting fossil fuels. If this is coupled to a genuine affordability and future funding package, then households will be able to contribute to climate change mitigation with confidence and at a cost that is fair to all.”

Source : The Guardian