Highest home solar instals for seven years, says MCS watchdog


Domestic installations of on-roof solar electricity systems boomed last year to their highest peak since 2015, the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) has reported.

Just over 130,000 home solar installations were registered with the MCS in 2022, up 114% on 2021, the MCS reports.

The MCS is the quality assurance body originally set up as guarantor of components & quality of installation in the bygone era when public money such as the Feed-in Tariff subsidised technologies such as home solar.  Clean power making on a home scale closed for subsidy in March 2019, for new applicants at least.

Green jobs in installation grew last year too.   780 new contractors became MCS certified, two-thirds of them certifying in clean electricity generation, again more than double the net increase on 2021. Last year thus witnessed the highest yearly leap of certified technicians in over a decade. Overwhelmingly, MCS contractors are micro- or small businesses, led by entrepreneurs practising a trade.

Whitehall’s imposition of subsidy cuts throughout the 20-teens at almost no notice resulted in the home installation industry’s notorious “solar coaster”, which dramatically grew, then culled, small firms.

Activity as reported for 2022 by the authoritative MCS indicates that rollercoaster is back at a peak, and arguably plateauing.    More than 3,000 certified businesses now make up the MCS contractor base.

Other home-sized low carbon energy techs are also enjoying their place in the sun, the MCS’s 2022 summaries reveal.

Heat pumps in both their air-source and ground-source variants, saw more than 30,000 installations, equivalent to 19% of all home-scale energy systems logged in the year.

March 2022 saw the largest spike in heat pump installations of any month in MCS history, as homeowners and installers rushed to beat the closure of the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

Heat pump uptake remained high following the launch of the government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS), launched in May 2022.  It offers households in England and Wales up to £6,000 to replace home boilers.

During 2022, almost 9,000 BUS vouchers were issued with a value of nearly £45 million. The government intends the BUS to fund 90,000 heat pumps by 2025.

Battery storage makes its first appearance for accreditation in 2022’s records. The MCS gave 50 certified contractors their competence award, up from only two contractors registered in 2021. A total of 269 battery systems were installed last year.

Ian Rippin, CEO of MCS, was happy but said more contractors are needed.

“We’re pleased to report our second strongest year since 2015, illustrating the sector’s upward trajectory”, said Rippin.

“We had an incredibly busy 2022.  The future of small-scale renewable installations is becoming increasingly important, and we continue to play a crucial role in the decarbonisation of the UK’s homes.

“Looking ahead, we need to drive this momentum and upward mobility at pace and continue to ensure consumer confidence across all technology types. To support this and ensure government targets are met, more skilled contractors are needed.

“As such, we will launch the Low Carbon Heating Technician Apprenticeship later this year. We are confident this will attract young people and career-changers to the industry, creating a more diverse workforce that meets the demands of the industry while providing future-proof careers in the green sector.”

Since MCS began recording installations, the scheme has seen more than 1.5 million certified power generation systems go into UK homes.


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