DECC: solar is favoured by ‘affluent, higher energy consuming households’

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has undertaken analysis designed to determine the drivers that cause an individual to install solar photovoltaic technology at a domestic level. The paper, titled ‘Identifying trends in the deployment of domestic solar PV under the feed-in tariff scheme’, undertakes analysis on those who have installed a residential solar system.

The paper analysed the average electricity and gas consumption of Lower Layer Super Output (LSOA) areas across England and Wales to determine what impact energy usage had on the decision to install a solar array. The results show that high electricity consuming households are more likely to install a solar array than low electricity consuming households.   

The analysis also reveals that the installation of solar arrays increases as the level of deprivation decreases, indicating a connection to various socio-economic factors.  The figures show that the trend correlates with the level of education, employment and income deprivation across LSOAs.

Perhaps the clearest trend identified in the analysis is that the greater the average age of the LSOA, the higher the proportion of households with a PV installation. Chart 9 from the analysis shows that the only exception to the trend is the 65-70 age range where installation levels dramatically level off.

Another interesting conclusion drawn from the analysis is that the more rural LSOA groups enjoy higher PV installation rates when compared to urban areas. Those LSOAs that possess a low proportion of social housing also have the highest number of installations per 10,000 households.

At the end of 2011 in England, almost a quarter (24 percent) of all domestic PV installations were owned by aggregators. The trends identified by the department’s analysis for aggregated installs are quite different to those identified for private PV installs. For example:  the number of aggregated solar installs actually rises as the average electricity consumption per decile group falls (see Chart 3). Similarly, aggregated installs increase in the most deprived groups in terms of education, employment and income.

Overall the department believes that there are several driving factors that contribute to the decision to install a domestic solar PV system which are largely driven by socio-economic characteristics such as age, education and comparative wealth. However, the drivers for uptake of aggregator-owned installations differ significantly as they appear more prominently in less affluent, less energy intensive areas.

DECC’s ‘Identifying trends in the deployment of domestic solar PV under the feed-in tariff scheme’ can be viewed in its entirety here.