More than 100,000 Welsh home and business owners turn to renewable energy

Nick from Thermal Earth

2023 has been a record-breaking year for installations of small-scale renewables in Wales, according to data from MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme) which shows that more than 100,000 MCS certified systems have now been installed in Wales since records began in 2008.

This landmark milestone comes just months after Wales was revealed to have secured the highest uptake of renewables per household in the UK, surpassing Scotland for the first time since 2021.

The latest MCS data shows that 103,506 installations of solar PV, battery storage systems, heat pumps and other renewable technologies have now taken place in Wales, the equivalent of 7.7% of Welsh households according to housing data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), placing the country at the top of the home nations for renewables uptake.

By the end of September, the top three UK local authorities for renewable technology installations were Powys, Ceredigion, and Anglesey, all in Wales.

The success of renewable energy and heating is most likely driven by the supportive Welsh policy landscape as well as the cost-of-living and energy crises and national awareness of the threat of climate change.

The Welsh Government’s Warm Homes Nest Scheme offers energy efficiency measures including heat pumps and solar panels for low-income households and those in deprived communities to keep warm and reduce their energy bills. In parallel, the Optimised Retrofit Programme offers funding to Welsh social landlords and local authorities to decarbonise social housing by way of whole-house retrofits including solar panels and heat pumps.

Total installation volumes and uptake can be found in near-real-time by each home nation and also by each local authority on the MCS Data Dashboard. Every MCS certified installation is recorded in the MCS Installations Database, the most comprehensive for small-scale renewable technology in the UK. The MCS Data Dashboard uses this data, updated every 24 hours, to paint a dynamic picture of the uptake of renewables across the country.

One household in Wales reaping the rewards of an installation is David Jones in Narberth, who had a ground-source heat pump installed by MCS certified contractor Thermal Earth.

David saw investing in a heat pump as a significant step towards embracing more sustainable heat and energy solutions: “I decided to have a heat pump installed in my property primarily due to its energy efficiency and environmental benefits, along with the added bonus of reducing my energy bills,” he said.

“With the growing concerns about climate change and the need to reduce carbon emissions, transitioning to more sustainable heating and cooling solutions has become crucial. The decision to install a heat pump now was motivated by a desire to make an immediate positive impact on the environment and to take advantage of available incentives for adopting eco-friendly technologies.”

David got some financial help with his installation through government funding: “The funding supported my decision to install a heat pump and helped to offset the initial investment.”

Nick Salini, Managing Director of heat pump contractor Thermal Earth, sees customers like David as reflective of the trend in Wales: “Heat pumps are popular with savvy consumers who recognise that burning fossil fuels are no longer the future for heating our homes and buildings. In particular, rural Welsh homes less likely to be on the grid find heat pumps to be an efficient solution.

“This year we hope to see continued growth in demand as more owners recognise the long-term benefits of moving away from fossil fuel systems. Our industry needs positive stories from the many successful installations that are being completed across the UK on a daily basis, recently there is a wave of misinformation that heat pumps are not viable or suitable. We along with our partners can demonstrate successfully completed heat pump systems all types of buildings of all types all across the UK.”

Ian Rippin, CEO at MCS, explains: “These grants and loans are clearly having an impact on the rise of renewables in Wales, where homeowners are investing in greener energy, resulting in more homeowners investing in home-grown energy than anywhere else in the UK.”

“These results also show the positive impact that Government incentive schemes can have, helping customers like David feel able to take the step of installing a heat pump and enabling him to enjoy the benefits of a low-carbon home.”