Wales leads the way for renewable energy and heating in the UK

Consumer greeting installer at door

The latest data from MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme) shows that the number of small-scale renewable installations in homes and businesses in Wales in April saw the nation secure the highest uptake in the UK. In recent years, Scotland has held on to the top spot as the UK nation with the highest proportion of installations per household. As Welsh homeowners continue to invest heavily in greener energy amidst the cost-of-living-crisis, they have overtaken Scotland in the league tables for the first time since 2021.

Scotland has roughly double the number of households as Wales, so although Wales has a smaller total installation count, there are more houses with installations according to MCS and housing data.

By the end of April 2023, all-time installation volumes reached 178,758 for Scotland and 97,537 for Wales. Using housing data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) to compare uptake volumes, Wales has 7.24% of homes with installations against Scotland’s 7.23%. England is third with 1,261,503 (5.52%) and Northern Ireland is fourth with 31,421 (4.19%).

Total installation volume and uptake is viewable in near-real-time by each home nation and also by local authority on the MCS Data Dashboard. Every 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 Welsh company seeing the demand for renewable energy installations is Llandudno-based Chris Allen Heating Limited. Founder Chris and his colleagues transitioned into small-scale renewables after more than 35 years of experience in installing traditional heating and electrical technologies. With experience in fitting air source heat pumps already, Chris and the team chose to become MCS certified for solar PV technologies too.

He believes solar PV is their most popular technology due to its instant impact: “Not only can the customers see the savings to their electric bill very quickly, but once installed, there are very few, if any, changes to how the customer uses the existing systems in their homes,” he commented.

Sian Griffith, a primary school teacher who lives in Anglesey, decided to invest in solar PV in 2021 for three reasons: her concerns around climate change, the desire to reduce her carbon footprint and the potential savings on her energy bill. Under the Welsh Government’s Arbed am Byth scheme, after purchasing her panels, Sian qualified to have them fitted to her home free of charge by Chris Allen Heating Limited.

Commenting on the installation, Sian said: “It made perfect sense to have the panels fitted once the surveyor had explained how they worked, and that my south-facing roof was an ideal location for them. The installation company provided instructions on how to make the most of the panels by doing as many electricity-hungry activities, such as clothes washing, during the day when the panels were generating at their peak.”

Chris Allen expects that the number of renewable installations in Wales and across the UK will continue to increase year-on-year. He believes it is inevitable that fossil fuels will be slowly phased out as they become less affordable.

Ian Rippin, CEO at MCS, explains: “It’s promising to see Wales perform so well in our latest data release as it highlights that more Welsh homeowners are not only looking to decarbonise their homes, but also that they are conscious about the installation quality they receive to maximise efficiency. For consumers like Sian, solar panels will lead to long-term cost savings.

“Solar PV continues to be the most popular technology type in Wales and across the UK, but heat pump installers are also seeing further uptake each month, and demand is gaining momentum for low-carbon heating, especially since the Boiler Upgrade Scheme was extended to 2028.

“With the energy crisis still very prevalent, consumers face hard decisions, so we hope these latest statistics give businesses and consumers in Wales the confidence to invest in home-grown energy to prepare their homes for a low-carbon future.”