Orkney and Western Isles lead in renewables uptake in Scotland

Houses with solar PV.

  • MCS, the UK’s quality mark for small-scale renewable energy installations, has revealed which areas of the country have the largest percentage of MCS certified renewable energy installations per household as of the end of March 2024 
  • The top two local authorities for uptake are both in Scotland; Orkney and the Western Isles, where more than a quarter of households now have an MCS certified installation 
  • Latest MCS data published just a week after Scottish government removed its target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 75% by 2030 

More than one in four households in the Scottish island regions of Orkney and the Western Isles now have a certified renewable energy installation as of the end of March 2024, according to the latest data from MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme). 

Orkney has the largest UK uptake of certified renewable energy installations per household, like solar PV and heat pumps, at 28.77%, with the Western Isles not far behind on 25.71%. There are currently only four local authorities in the UK with an uptake of more than 20%, with Welsh regions Ceredigion and Anglesey joining the Scottish island regions.  

This latest data is published at a time when the Scottish government has just announced it is withdrawing its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 75% by 2030, citing it as out of reach. 

Ian Rippin, CEO of MCS, said: “Homes are responsible for around 15% of Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions1, so small-scale renewables have a crucial role to play in reducing emissions and contributing to the achievement of key environmental targets. Our data shows that Scotland is making good progress compared to other UK nations – 8.47% of households now having a certified renewable technology installation, putting it second behind only Wales.  

“However, this announcement risks denting confidence in the drive to net-zero, so we must continue promoting the benefits of small-scale renewables while acknowledging that they alone are not enough to meet key targets. As consumer demand for renewables continues to grow, we need to ensure that homeowners have access to certified low-carbon systems such as heat pumps and solar panels.” 

The latest data from MCS includes the installation statistics for March, which again showed that solar PV is leading the way as the most popular form of renewable technology in Scotland. There were 1,717 certified solar PV installations in March, compared to 686 heat pump installations.  

The overall UK statistics for March continued several positive trends, with more than 4,500 certified heat pump installations making it the second-best month ever for the technology. So far, the average monthly heat pump installations for 2024 is over 4,000, marking a 30% increase over the 2023 average – which itself had been the best year ever. 

Battery storage also continues to be a growth area, with March becoming the second consecutive month to see more than 1,000 certified installations of the technology.  

MCS holds the most comprehensive repository of data on the uptake of small-scale renewable installations across the UK on The MCS Data Dashboard. For near-real-time updates on installations, you can register for free now for The MCS Data Dashboard here.