2022: Solar, so good

As more MCS-certified solar PV installations are installed on UK roofs, CEO Ian Rippin spoke to NAPIT’s Competent Person Magazine about the bright future for renewable power and confidence in home-grown energy:

When the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) ended in April 2019, there was concern in the renewable energy sector that solar PV demand would diminish and, without financial support, domestic solar energy would be disincentivised.

Despite this, the UK market for domestic solar installations is brighter than ever. In fact, 2022 to date has already seen the most MCS certified solar PV installations since the peak of FiT.

Solar Power On The Rise

In July, there were 11,294 installations registered on the MCS Installations Database (MID), an increase of 130% on the 4,900 that were installed during July 2021.

CEO Ian Rippin
MCS CEO Ian Rippin

We’ve already registered more installations in the first half of 2022 than we did in the whole of last year. Between January-July this year there have been 67,847 installations. In 2021, we saw 61,431 certified solar PV installations registered on the MID; at the time, the most we’d seen in a single year since 2015, during the height of FiT.

We reached a major national milestone in the solar revolution when the solar capacity across UK rooftops reached 3GW, the equivalent of Sizewell C nuclear power station’s energy output. This is the result of the more than 1.2 million MCS-certified solar PV installations already generating clean electricity across the country.

If we maintain the momentum we’ve seen so far this year, we will be on track to exceed 2015, making 2022 the most successful year for solar installations since our scheme began. This is a huge uptake, so why are we seeing so many certified installations of solar PV panels on the roofs of UK homes?

Why Is The Country Turning To Solar?

With energy prices increasing so considerably recently and another rise in the energy price cap expected in October, UK homeowners are worried about the cost of living now more than ever.

More households are seemingly turning towards domestic energy solutions to provide security against inflated costs and combat rising energy prices. Solar Energy UK’s recent report, The Value of Solar Property, found that – between energy savings and selling surplus electricity back to the grid under the Government’s Smart Export Guarantee – households can save up to £963 a year using domestic solar power. The report also concluded that installing solar panels could increase a home’s value by up to £2,722.

This report comes after the latest update to the BEIS Public Attitudes Tracker (PAT), which surveyed opinions on the anticipated effect of renewables on energy prices. People see the potential for prices to decrease over the longer-term, with 45% of people anticipating price decreases in 10 or more years’ time.

The PAT also noted UK homeowners’ growing interest in using greener energy, with 81% of those who would install solar panels saying they want to do it to use more renewable electricity.

What Does This Mean For Installers?

Solar PV technology has now developed to a point where it isn’t reliant on subsidy and can power a home cost-effectively in a post-FiT world. The benefits of adding battery storage technology allow homeowners to make the most of the electricity that they generate by storing it, working as part of a smart whole-house approach to renewable energy.

Following a successful campaign led by the MCS Charitable Foundation, there is now also zero VAT on battery storage systems when installed alongside solar panels, making them even more affordable. With zero VAT on the whole system, it is easier and more beneficial for contractors to sell complete solutions to homeowners. The new MCS Battery Storage Installation Standard is providing confidence in the quality and utility of storage systems.

Not only are we seeing more installations registered on the MID, our contractor base also continues to grow. We’re seeing more companies diversify into solar and storage as well as more new market entrants capitalising on the solar boom.

Solar PV panels on a UK home
UK homes are installing more rooftop solar than ever before

On July 1st this year, we had 1,491 contractors, a 15% increase on the 1,294 contractors certified at the end of 2021 in only six months. With more contractors available, the sector is making headway in keeping up with growing demand and the industry is moving to support new contractors.

If you are based in London and are interested in becoming certified to install solar PV, we’re accepting applications for Solar Skills London, a project by the Mayor of London. This scheme aims to double the current number of certified contractors in Greater London to unlock the solar potential on rooftops in the capital. Successful applicants will receive £1,000 to cover the costs of MCS certification. Alongside Solar Energy UK, the wider project will also create dedicated career pathways and guidance to support a pipeline of talent into the next generation of solar installers.

With industry collaboration and increasing homeowner demand driving solar uptake, there has never been a better time to install solar and help us in giving the UK confidence in home-grown energy. With the enormous demand in the solar sector, now is the perfect time to become a certified contractor.

For more information on becoming certified, reach out to the MCS helpdesk on 0333 103 8130 or email us at hello@mcscertified.com