In 2023, the UK experienced a significant increase in rooftop solar panel installations, reaching the highest numbers in 12 years. Industry reports indicate that close to 190,000 solar installations were completed, a peak since the reduction of government incentives in 2011. Additionally, the installation of heat pumps across the UK has surged to an unprecedented high, with nearly 40,000 units installed, marking a 25% rise from the previous year. The cumulative total of certified heat pumps in the nation now exceeds 200,000.
The MCS, an organisation responsible for industry accreditation, observed a notable increase in heat pump demand following the government's decision to raise the grants for the boiler upgrade scheme in October, from £5,000 to £7,500. This led to a 50% boost in grant applications.
David Cowdrey, the MCS Foundation's director of external affairs, emphasised the need for additional government policies, besides the increased grants, to facilitate the necessary rapid expansion. He also suggested transferring social and environmental charges from energy bills to general taxation in order to lower electricity costs, making heat pump operation more cost-effective than gas boilers.
Charlotte Lee, CEO of the Heat Pump Association, advised heating engineers to prepare for rising demand by investing in heat pump installation training, ensuring readiness for the expected increase in deployment and thus securing their business's future.
Although solar installations haven't surpassed the 2011 record of 203,000, when the feed-in-tariff support scheme prompted a rush, the sector remains optimistic. Chris Hewett, CEO of Solar Energy UK, expressed enthusiasm about the industry's progress and the forthcoming government-industry solar taskforce report, which aims to achieve 70GW of solar capacity. He also highlighted the growing integration of heat pumps and battery storage systems with solar energy, enhancing savings and environmental benefits.