UK sees best year for renewable energy and heating installation, MCS reports


UK homeowners are turning to renewables and installing low-carbon energy and heating technologies in record numbers, according to the latest data from Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS).

In 2023, a total of 220,500 MCS certified installations have been registered, beating the end of year figures for 2022, which was already the most successful year for small-scale renewable installations since records began in 2008.

MCS data found that heat pumps have seen a rise in popularity in 2023 with more than 35,000 installations registered between air source and ground/water source technologies, a record year for UK heat pump installations. This figure brought the UK to over 200,000 certified heat pump installations in total since 2008. Heat pumps show sustained growth in the UK with each of the six previous years surpassing the one before for certified installations.

Heat pump uptake remained high in the second year of the government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS), which launched in May 2022 to encourage households across England and Wales to access a grant to replace their boiler with a more environmentally friendly heating system.

In October this year, the grant value for heat pumps was increased to £7,500, opening up the possibility of owning a heat pump to thousands of homeowners. Since the increase of the grant value, average weekly applications for BUS vouchers soared from 331 to 1,172, reflecting the impact of supportive government policy on deploying important low-carbon technology.

To date, more than 17,500 BUS vouchers have been issued with a value over £90m; under the scheme, the government aims to support increasing heat pump deployment in line with ambitions to install 600,000 heat pumps annually by 2028.

Charlotte Lee, CEO of the Heat Pump Association said: “It is promising to see this growth in the UK heat pump market and we celebrate that more and more homeowners can access low-carbon technology to keep their homes warm, comfortable, and energy efficient.

“Whilst we are pleased that the BUS grant has been increased, we would encourage the government to take further steps to demonstrate the national commitment to low-carbon heating. It is vital that the overall budget for BUS is increased to support greater heat pump deployment and to ensure it does not act as an artificial cap on the market.  Other vital policy enablers include reducing the price of electricity relative to the price of gas and supporting contractors to cover the costs of becoming certified to install heat pumps, akin to the support offered in Scotland.”

A statement has said that there was also substantial growth of solar PV installations in 2023, with the total number of installations in 2022 –itself the most successful year for rooftop solar since the closure of the Feed-In Tariff (Fit) – being surpassed in the first nine months of the year alone.

So far this year, there have been 183,022 certified solar PV installations across the UK, exceeding the 138,000 in 2022 by one third.

As more homeowners explore options to better utilise their home-grown energy, Battery Storage has become the third most popular tech type to be installed amongst the MCS certified contractor base. At the end of 2022, there were 50 contractors certified to install the technology, and there are now over 850. Installations have seen a similar growth with 4,400 of the 4,700 certified batteries being installed in 2023 and almost 800 of those in November alone.

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