The Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) has confirmed that Welsh homes and businesses installed a record number of solar panels and heat pumps in 2023.
Wales saw more than double the amount of certified renewable installations in Wales than the previous year, bringing the total number of Welsh homes and businesses with renewable energy to over 100,000.
Almost one in ten households in Wales have MCS-certified renewable installations as of 2023, the highest proportion of any other country in the UK.
Solar panels accounted for the majority of new renewable energy, with 14,730 MCS-certified installations across the country, representing a 12-year high and the highest level since Feed-In Tariff grants were cut in 2011.
One of the most notable increases was that of heat pump installations. The 147% rise between 2022 and 2023 is primarily credited to UK government grants like the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) introduced in 2022.
Grants available for homeowners via the Welsh Government’s Nest scheme have also helped with the rollout of renewables. Although the Nest scheme is due to end in March 2024, a new scheme is set to replace it the following month.
David Cowdrey, director of external affairs at the MCS Foundation, said that this considerable increase in renewable energy technologies is “good news” for Welsh homes and energy bills but warns that the overall goal has yet to be reached.
Cowdrey said: “While the upward trend is encouraging, we need to install many more heat pumps much faster to meet climate change targets. Government policies like mandating heat pumps in all new-build homes and reducing the price of electricity so that heat pumps are guaranteed to be cheaper to run than a gas boiler will help to increase uptake.”
A clear track
The road leading up to this point paved a wide path for expanding Welsh low-carbon technology installation. The entire UK was reported to have its own record year, reaching a total of 220,500 MCS-certified installations in 2023.
Solar PV was confirmed as the leading technology for these installations, coming in at an impressive 183,022 annually.
Moreover, the MCS revealed that April 2023 saw Wales secure the highest uptake of small-scale renewable installations in the UK.
Using housing data from the Office for National Statistics, MCS revealed that 7.24% of homes in Wales have small-scale renewable installations, overtaking Scotland at 7.23% for the first time since 2021.
England came in third with its volume of domestic installations at 5.52%, and then Northern Ireland took up the rear with 4.19%.
In November 2023, Panasonic announced plans to retrofit its Welsh manufacturing factory via hydrogen fuel cells, solar PV, and battery storage, serving as a critical example of large-scale projects the country will also benefit from.
The Japanese electronics heavyweight said it will invest £113 million over two years into the launch of its RE100 demonstration production facility in Cardiff, Wales.
Also, February 2023 saw the first installation of Allume Energy’s ‘dynamic sharing’ solar technology called SolShare in the UK housing sector at 24 residential flats in Cardiff.
The project – funded by the Welsh government in conjunction with Wales & West Housing – forms part of the Optimised Retrofit Programme and is set to cover 55% to 75% of each flat’s electricity demand with solar-generated electricity.