The South West topped the chart with a solar hotspot score of 8.48 out of ten. Image: Ell Brown.

New research by Independent Advisor shows that solar installations in the UK increased by over 37% in the last year. Over 1.7 million domestic homes have had the technology installed, and the overall number of solar panels in the UK increased by a third from 2022 to 2023.

Katharine Allison, energy-saving expert at Independent Advisor Solar Panels, said of the findings: “As the UK’s interest in sustainable living grows, solar power is emerging as a leading solution for households looking to lower their carbon footprint.

“The findings here give us a clear picture of the solar landscape in the UK, highlighting the regions and local authorities leading the way in solar adoption.”

Areas get a hotspot score based on the percentage of households with solar panels installed in 2023-2024, the capacity of solar panels as of December 2022, and the average annual number of sunshine hours.

Regionally, the South West tops the chart with a solar hotspot score of 8.48 out of ten, followed by the South East. Northern Ireland is at the bottom of the rankings with a score of only 1.21.

That being said, Northern Ireland was the area with the third biggest increase in solar panel installations compared to 2018-19.

Solar hotspots by local authority

The report also calculated the solar hotspot score by local authority, with Pembrokeshire getting 9.17. Wales scored well across all of the metrics Independent Advisor covered: It had the highest percentage of solar PV installations in 2023/24 (1.32%), the third-highest regional solar hotspot score and is home to the top three areas with the highest percentage of households choosing solar panels in 2023/24 as seen below.

Image: Independent Advisor.

London was the region with the lowest percentage (0.25%) of households choosing solar panels in 2023/24. This is in part due to planning restrictions, a lack of space, and the number of rented homes in the urban landscape.

Northern Ireland was second to London for the lowest rate of solar panel installation at just 0.3%. However, it saw an increase of 226% ahead of Yorkshire and the Humber.

Stoke-on-Trent saw a huge decrease in solar panels, with a 90% drop from 4,287 installations in 2018/19 to just 428 by 2023/24.

Council solar panel schemes

One reason for that drastic drop could be the revelation last year that several in the city felt they were mis-sold panels under the council-led Community Energy Scheme (CES). Independent Advisor also noted the percentage of solar PV installations resulting from the Local Authority Delivery (LAD) and Home Upgrade Grant (HUG) schemes, tracking locations where solar panel installations were the most common measure delivered by the programmes – below.

Image: Independent Advisor.

Allison commented that a few solar power grants, like LAD and HUG, are designed to encourage more people to adopt solar energy solutions.

“One of these is the ECO4 scheme, which provides free solar panels to households within England, Scotland and Wales that meet specific criteria,” Allison said

“To take advantage of the schemes available, check with your local council to see if you qualify for any initiates.”

Solar Power Portal’s publisher Solar Media will host the UK Solar Summit on 4-5 June 2024 in London. The event will explore the UK’s new landscape for utility and rooftop solar, looking at the opportunities within a GW+ annual market, and much more. For more information, go to the website.