2023: A record-breaking year for MCS and small-scale renewables
8 January 2024
2023 has been a record-breaking year for small-scale renewables. MCS data shows that 2023 has surpassed every previous year on record for certified installations of low-carbon energy and heating across the UK.
Our CEO, Ian Rippin, recently spoke to Renewable Energy Installer about the successes of the past year, while sharing our role in UK renewables for the future.
A year to remember
It goes without saying that 2023 was a year of substantial growth, innovation, and transformation across the renewables landscape. MCS has had an incredibly busy year, and our data confirms the fantastic progress we’ve made in giving people confidence in home-grown energy.
Our 2023 figures show that MCS has now certified over 1.7 million installations across the UK in our history, with over 220,500 installations registered in 2023 alone. This reflects the growing number of UK homeowners who are turning to renewable energy to heat and power their homes.
In October, we were proud to certify our 4,000th contractor. More than 1,800 new contractors have become certified in 2023 so far, marking a 70% growth in our contractor base since the end of 2022. In fact, more contractors have joined the scheme in 2023 than in the previous six years combined!
We are extremely proud of this milestone achievement; it is incredibly encouraging to see our certified contractor base continuing to grow at pace as it reflects the demand for more skilled, competent installers to deliver low-carbon energy and heating technology for UK consumers.
Solar PV is powering on
Solar PV continues to be the most popular renewable technology amongst UK homeowners. More than 183,000 certified solar PV installations have been installed across the country in 2023 so far. This exceeds the 138,000 total in 2022 by one third! Our solar PV contractor base has also experienced substantial growth this year. At the end of 2022, MCS had fewer than 2,000 solar PV contractors – today, we have over 3,300.
The growth in solar PV mirrors the growing demand amongst homeowners to generate their own home-grown electricity, reducing energy bills, claiming energy independence, and decreasing their carbon footprint.
In August, we welcomed TÜV Rheinland (China) Ltd, a new product certification body for solar panel products, to the MCS Scheme. TÜV Rheinland’s expertise in the fields of solar energy and power electronics will be play a critical role in strengthening the UK supply chain for solar panel products.
Heat pumps are heating up
2023 has seen a significant rise in the popularity of heat pumps. In the past year, 35,000 certified heat pump installations have been registered across the UK, making 2023 a record year for the technology. This figure brought the UK to over 200,000 certified heat pump installations in total since 2008!
Even with this growth, there is still a long way to go if we’re to reach Government ambitions of 600,000 heat pump installations a year by 2028. It’s critical that we have a dedicated pathway to develop an army of renewable heating installers with certifiable skills who know how to design and fit low-carbon heating systems to the highest possible standard.
Earlier this year, we launched the UK’s first Low Carbon Heating Technician apprenticeship. The apprenticeship is the first dedicated training provision for heat pump engineers in the UK. 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.
In October this year, we saw some key changes made to the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS). The grant value for heat pumps was increased to £7,500, opening up the possibility of owning a heat pump to thousands more 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.
The grant increase will make it easier and more affordable for the average UK consumer to transition to low-carbon heating, which is a vital step forward in our pursuit to meet the Government ambition to install 600,000 heat pumps annually by 2028.
Battery storage is breaking records
To really realise the benefit of generating solar energy at home, more homeowners are installing batteries alongside their PV systems. A year on from introducing our Battery Storage installation standard, we’re already seen remarkable growth in the number of contractors and installations for this new tech type.
2023 has been a record-breaking year for battery storage so far, with the technology becoming the third most popular technology type to be installed amongst our certified contractor base. At the end of 2022, there were 50 contractors certified to install battery storage – today, there are over 850. Installations have also seen a similar growth, with 4,400 of the 4,700 certified batteries being installed in 2023.
In the recently published consultation on the 2025 Future Homes Standard, the Government has proposed all new build homes utilising solar and battery storage should only be fitted with battery systems compliant with MCS standards to ensure quality and safety.
Looking ahead to 2024
In 2024 our goals remain no less ambitious. Earlier this year, we ran a six-week consultation on our plans to redevelop the MCS scheme. We sought views from contractors, consumers, manufacturers, and independent experts on how we should shape the future of MCS.
We are excited to see the new Scheme come into effect on 1 April 2024, and look forward to reset the Scheme’s consumer protections to give people the confidence that they need to engage with small-scale renewables.
Visit the MCS Scheme Redevelopment page here to find out about the outcomes for the new Scheme.
We also look forward to enrolling the first intake of students onto the Low Carbon Heating Technician apprenticeship in September 2024. We recently created the Growth and Development Group to support with the promotion, development, and administration of the apprenticeship. I am very excited to see the great work the group will do in 2024 to ensure that the apprenticeship is of the highest quality. You can read more about the Growth & Development group here.
The future of small-scale renewable installations is becoming increasingly important to reach the UK’s Net Zero targets. In 2024, we expect to see more and more UK homeowners transition to renewable energy to heat and power their homes. MCS is proud to be giving people confidence in home-grown energy and is excited to continue our crucial role in the decarbonisation of the UK’s homes.
For near-real-time updates on installations, register for free now to use the MCS Data Dashboard and track trends and opportunities in the uptake of small-scale renewables across the UK.