top of page

Home solar panels and the UK, a case study of steady adoption.

Author: Edward Smith Published: 12 Dec 2023


Home use of commercial solar panels isn’t a new phenomenon. In many developed countries, solar panels have gone from being a national or private industry to one that can be integrated into housing, both as an energy saving measure, and as a part of home development.


This change has occurred as solar panels have somewhat famously become cheaper and easier to produce as time has gone on, and the methodology behind their creation has become more streamlined.


Solar panels

Costs of renewable energy

With renewable energy goals and net zero in mind, government and private spending on renewable energy in the UK have increased exponentially. At the start of 2023, the government put over 200 million pounds into subsidies for renewable development. Meanwhile, the dropping costs of solar power have made it a much more viable public and commercial choice. its viability as a public, commercial choice significantly more viable.


A 2019 report by IRENA, the International Renewable Energy Agency, found that over the course of the 2010’s, the overall cost of solar panels had fallen over 80% due to a marked decrease in the costs of their components and production. Alongside this, the cost of ‘modules’, meaning the actual cells within the panels themselves, had dropped to be over 90% cheaper.


A follow-up study found that going from 2010 to 2022, solar went from being seven times more expensive than the cheapest fossil fuel options to fifty percent cheaper than it. 

According to IRENA, utility scale solar panels of this type had a capacity of 40 gigawatts in 2010, enough to power 30 million UK homes for an hour. By 2020, this had moved up to over a thousand gigawatts. The UK serves as just part of this figure, but the pattern is consistent across the developed world.


Home solar in the UK

The UK serves as an interesting case study in how home solar can serve as a complement to general production. With solar being much less popular than wind power in the country due to the UK’s climate. Solar serves a small but gradually developing role, allowing for a careful examination of its private development alongside its national counterpart.


Solar panels

Home solar power has become an integrated part of solar power’s development because of its increasingly low cost  and the way it can be integrated into residential areas. The UK’s taskforce on Solar rollout considered it a vital part of the industry’s emergence, saying that “rooftop solar… would come on top of solar panels on the ground” and added that “If we are to achieve our net zero ambitions, we need to drive forward the deployment of all types of solar, from rooftops to… utility-scale solar farms.” 


Solar farms have been the focus of media attention throughout the life of this technology, and indeed do the heavy lifting for its output, accounting for almost 25% of renewable energy in the UK, around 5% of all energy in the country. 


Home Solar meanwhile is a comparatively small addon, with around 1.3 million homes in the UK using solar panels as of 2023. According to the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, up to a third of all solar power produced in the UK came from rooftop installations.

In a country that is very densely populated compared to many of its neighbours, the UK’s adoption of rooftop solar installations is a major, generally accepted, step in the country’s green development. Chris Hewett, a chief executive on the earlier mentioned government taskforce to roll out solar power, called rooftop solar a way that the average person can “do their bit”. Adding  that the “acres of rooftop space on car parks and supermarkets in every community,” as well as residential areas, were a way to do more on a national level.


Public opinion on solar energy

The general public in the UK has a generally positive response to these developments and the further deployment of rooftop, residential and commercial solar. A study by Solar Energy UK, a private trade association, found in a 2022 study that “for the first time,” support for solar power development is strong not only amongst the wider public” but also amongst “those living closest” to solar farms. This presented in over 50% of the public polled fully supporting solar development, with just short of another 20% being neutral.


A government study by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy found even more encouraging results in the prior year. Their survey found that 67% of respondents would at least consider installing solar panels on their own home in the right financial situation.


------------------

Edward Smith is a professional journalist with a wide variety of experience and skills covering numerous topics. Writing for The Conference Corner, Edward has an interest in bringing forward important and informative details about the climate and new technologies into the public eye.



Bibliography


Comments


bottom of page