Solar power represents market opportunities for installers

As global demand for solar power is set to overtake gas and coal within the next few years, we look at the benefits of solar power for the UK’s domestic market, and the potential for installers to capitalise on this growing market sector.

A recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) showed that global investment in solar PV power is due to overtake that of natural gas by 2026 and coal by 2027. Of course this includes the result of both domestic and commercial investment, but it’s a reflection of the growing recognition across the world that solar power is a major contributor to the move towards a Net Zero future.

The UK still has work to do

However, if we look at the uptake of solar energy across Europe, the UK does not even feature in the top 10 countries of solar output per capita. According to Solar Power Europe, Netherlands came top of the list in 2022, having overtaken Germany as the European leader for the second year in a row. Around 46% of the Netherland’s growth in solar energy output is down to domestic demand through rooftop installations.

The Eco Experts reported in April that approximately 1.2 million UK homes are using solar power, just 4.1% of available housing stock *, so while we have a lot to do, it means there’s a significant untapped market out there. To meet Net Zero by 2050, we therefore need to increase the number of solar installations appreciably year on year, and the domestic market is one that is ripe for installers to benefit from.

What’s not to like?

It is fair to say that in the UK we don’t have a hot, sunny climate like Spain – which comes a surprising 7th in the list of European rankings – but it’s a myth to suggest that solar panels only work in summer. Yes, output will be lower in winter, but they still work. Solar is also one of the cheapest and most environmentally friendly sources of energy we can use, so it ticks all the boxes in terms of reducing our carbon footprint while not compromising on how we run our homes and our lives.

Solar panels are also not intrusive to install as the majority of the work is to the outside of the property, so installation is easy for the homeowner. They also have a long life span and they can reasonably be expected to last for 25-30 years as they only become marginally less effective year on year. Batteries do need to be replaced more often, but even then only every 5-10 years on average.

In terms of cost, the old days of prohibitive prices are gone: as demand has increased and production systems have improved, so costs have come down, which in turn has dropped the pay-back time. How long it takes to recoup the investment varies between installation and depends on a number of factors, for example the number of panels needed, the energy use of the household, or whether the house is empty during working hours. However, broadly speaking, a homeowner can expect to cover their initial investment costs several years sooner than was the case a few years ago.

Some financial help is still available too via the ECO4 scheme (Energy Company Obligation), the only current Government-backed scheme for vulnerable and low-income households, and those living in fuel poverty. But, solar panels qualify for a zero rate of VAT until 1 April 2027 (England, Wales and Scotland only).

Pushing against at open door

For installers, selling solar installations is becoming easier. The benefits to the homeowner are clear. Volatile energy prices in recent years mean that households are looking at ways in which to reduce their bills. If solar energy does that while contributing to decarbonisation, then the buying signs are already there. For companies who want to tap into this potential market opportunity, HIES is here to help. Becoming a HIES accredited Member offers a vast range of benefits for an installer from help with sales and marketing collateral, up to date information on Government schemes and regulations, assistance in registering jobs, insurance-backed guarantees, and technical and product support.

For homeowners, when they choose a HIES installer, they can be sure that they are buying from a vetted, accredited member with the right skills to be able to advise and install. This is the first step towards reducing our carbon footprint and reducing energy bills. If homeowners are asking for solar power for their homes, and installers have the right support, we can help drive more decarbonisation of our homes into the future.

ECO Experts Article How Many People Have Solar Panels in the UK? – The Eco Experts