The number of households and businesses installing rooftop solar panels has reached its highest level in 12 years, while heat pump installations climbed to record highs in 2023, according to the industry’s official standards body.
The figures showed almost 190,000 rooftop solar installations were carried out last year, the highest level since the government slashed its subsidy scheme in late 2011.
Meanwhile, the number of heat pumps installed across the UK rose to a record high of almost 40,000, up 25% on the previous year, according to the data. This brings the total number of certified heat pumps installed across the country to more than 200,000.
The industry’s accreditation body, the MCS, said there was a late surge in demand for heat pumps after the government increased the grants available through its boiler upgrade scheme from £5,000 for an air-source heat pump to £7,500 in October. Applications for the grant increased by 50% after the introduction of the higher rate, it said.
However, the MCS Foundation, which oversees the body’s standards scheme, said the UK was still falling short in its goal to reduce its reliance on gas, which is considered a crucial step in meeting Britain’s legally binding climate targets.
It added that the installation of heat pumps would have increase more than tenfold within the next four years to meet the government target of 600,000 a year by 2028.
David Cowdrey, the director of external affairs at the foundation, said the industry would still need additional government policies, on top of the higher grants, to achieve “the exponential growth” that was “required now”.
He called on the government to move social and environmental tariffs from energy bills into general taxation in order to reduce electricity costs and make running heat pumps substantially cheaper than a gas boiler.
Charlotte Lee, the chief executive of the Heat Pump Association, a trade body, said: “With consumer demand for heat pumps rising, we encourage all heating engineers to look ahead and invest in heat pump installation training to support the anticipated deployment and to future-proof their business.”
Solar installations fell short of the record 203,000 in 2011, when people rushed to take advantage of the amount they received from the feed-in-tariff support scheme before it was slashed.
Chris Hewett, the chief executive of the trade association Solar Energy UK, said: “The solar industry is on a roll, particularly as we start to conclude work on the government-industry solar taskforce, whose roadmap for delivering 70GW of capacity is due to be published in a couple of months.
“It is also very gratifying to see such growth in the deployment of heat pumps and battery energy storage systems, which partner so well with rooftop solar energy systems by maximising the savings and decarbonisation that they offer.”