The global growth rate of solar PV in numbers
The worldwide solar PV market was worth $159.84 billion in 2021 and is predicted to reach $250.63 billion by 2030.
Despite geopolitical tensions and the supply chain crisis of recent years, the growth in solar has been unprecedented. Up by 270 TWh (26%) in 2022, reaching almost 1300 TWh, and globally poised to surpass natural gas and coal by 2027.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), solar PV and wind are set to lead the largest annual increase in renewable capacity ever this year.
Moreover, as a result of the rapidly increasing retail electricity prices, the uptake of distributed solar PV has also increased significantly.
Solar PV in housing development
With the UK government’s net zero carbon targets to hit as well as ESG goals, it is of little surprise that installation of renewables has come into focus for housing developers to improve the performance rating of new buildings.
As occupiers out of energy contracts currently face up to four times increase in energy costs, tapping into the spare roof space seems to be the sound choice for both residents and developers, especially given how it takes no space inside the building.
Solar PV also makes buildings more compliant to building EPC scores and rentable, and it is low on maintenance. With rapid electrification across sectors, from transport to heating, solar also takes the strain off the National Grid.
UK developers are increasingly taking to solar PV installation to decarbonise the UK’s new built environment. This helps them achieve much higher legally binding energy efficiency standards and meet the interim change in Part L of the Building Regulations (while paving the way for the Future Homes Standard), get the SAP pass and improve BREEAM scores.
The growing appeal of solar PV to homeowners
Declining overall costs of solar panels and increasing energy prices mean homeowners are drawn to creating home-grown energy.
Based on the MCS data, over 1.3 million UK households are switching to solar. In fact, 73% of the new UK solar power added last year was from household installations.
According to NTT Data UK&I, in the last 12 years, solar panels have accounted for 69% of the country’s added solar capacity.
Despite the UK’s largely overcast weather, solar panels in the UK still receive enough sunlight to cut electricity bills by more than half, even in the northern areas of Scotland.
Additionally, residents of England, Scotland and Wales with solar PV installations also benefit from the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) tariff, through which small-scale low carbon generators (of up to 5MW) are paid for the renewable electricity they send to the grid.
This brings us to consider a not-so-distant possibility: if installed in every UK home, solar panels could provide 60% of domestic electricity consumption.
The role of solar PV in social housing
In 2017, the UK government allocated £1 billion to install solar panels in over 800,000 social housing homes to help social housing residents cut back on their energy bills.
Different councils have since shown varying levels of support; some have been a bit tentative, but there is an increasing number of councils, such as Solar Together Leicestershire or St Alban’s district council, who have committed to installing solar PV at scale to reduce emissions and lower tenant bills.
14 out of 17 successful bids in the social housing decarbonisation fund (SHDF) Demonstrator covering 90% of the properties have solar PV among the efficiency measures to be installed.
Overall, councils have seen the impact solar can have in minimising costs. In the face of impending deadlines to achieve the EPC ratings, housing associations are driven to replace fossil fuel with electricity and have identified the role of solar PV in achieving energy efficiencies.
Also, provisions have been made for low-income and vulnerable households powered by electricity, air-source heat pump or electric boilers to access solar installation from their council: UK government-funded ‘ECO4 scheme’ for tackling fuel poverty’ offers 100% funding on solar panel installation.
The case of combating increasing prices
“Energy microgeneration has graduated from theory to practice due, in part, to rapidly increasing energy prices; our data shows that small installations now make up a quarter of the UK’s national solar capacity, with that figure rising rapidly” – Eduardo Fernandez, VP for gas, power and water at NTT DATA UK&I.
NTT DATA UK&I’s findings reveal that homeowners receive approximately 4.9p per kWh when they supply surplus electricity to the grid, while the current energy cap is nine times higher.
Given the limited grid capacity for renewables, this situation underscores the importance of considering energy storage, particularly heat batteries.
Pairing Sunamp Thermino with solar PV for efficient hot water solutions and energy savings
The Plentigrade phase change material (PCM) in Thermino heat batteries can be charged by an array of energy sources, including solar PV and grid, to store electricity in the form of heat, which then is made available to provide domestic hot water.
Domestic hot water use takes up a substantial 17% of the total energy consumption of an average household.
These PCM heat batteries are exceptionally energy efficient, a key consideration when thinking of energy storage to drive savings for domestic households.
The patented Plentigrade PCM stores more energy per unit volume than any other material as it uses not just the sensible heat but also the latent heat of the material.
In addition, the battery is vacuum-packed with insulated panels that ensure very low energy losses.
Swapping out a hot water cylinder for an electrically charged Thermino 210e will instantly save up to 940 kWh of electricity every year.
Thermino’s ePV heat battery can be paired with solar panels to deliver hot water more efficiently from PV. At the same time, the grid electricity can provide the backup and automatically top up the charge whenever required.
The Eastheat project
The Eastheat project, backed by the Scottish Government, saw Sunamp heat batteries installed in 625 homes, where they harnessed the excess energy from solar that would otherwise have disappeared back to the grid with little benefit to customers.
These high-capacity thermal batteries also help tackle the limited grid capacity issue with solar as they can store high amounts of energy to be delivered on demand, even during periods of intermittency.
To find out more about Thermino heat batteries and how they can fit with your residential solar PV installation project, get in touch with us here.