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UK Solar Panels market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Solar Panels market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry and how fast are its rates of growth? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

This report addresses the following key questions concerning the UK solar panels market:

  • How has the UK solar panels market performed in recent years?
  • How have the different types of solar panel deployment been developed over recent years? (roof-top, ground-mounted, etc.)
  • How have changes in government policy shaped the development of the market?
  • How have key players in the market performed in recent years?
  • What are the prospects for the UK solar PV market in a post-subsidy world?

Definitions

The terms of reference for this report concern the UK solar panels market.

Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity, either directly using photovoltaics (PV) or indirectly using concentrated solar power (CSP). Concentrated solar power systems use lenses or mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam. Photovoltaics convert light into electric current using the photoelectric effect. As of 2017, there are no CSP plants in the UK and none announced, with the market monopolised by photovoltaics.

PV cells are made from layers of semi-conducting material, usually silicon. When light shines on the cell it creates an electric field across the layers. The stronger the sunshine, the more electricity is produced. Groups of cells are mounted together in panels or modules that can be mounted on a roof.

The power of a PV cell is measured in kilowatts peak (kWp), the rate at which it generates energy at peak performance in full direct sunlight during the summer. PV cells come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Most PV systems are made up of panels that fit on top of an existing roof, but solar tiles are also available.

Solar tiles are designed to be used in place of ordinary roof tiles. A system made up of solar tiles will typically cost around double an equivalent panel system, though there is a further saving on roof tiles or slates. Solar tile systems are not normally as cost-effective as panel systems, and are usually only considered where panels are not appropriate for aesthetic or planning reasons.

Market Segmentation

  • Industry
  • Transport
  • Domestic
  • Other

Company Profiles

  • A Shade Greener
  • British Solar Renewables
  • Conergy UK
  • Evoenergy
  • Good Energy Group
  • Lightsource Renewable Energy Holdings
  • PV Crystalox
  • Voltalia UK (formerly Martifer Solar)
  • Solar Century

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Claudia Preedy, a leading analyst in the B2B sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Future growth in a subsidy-free solar PV market will largely be driven by the continued fall in installation costs and the increased availability of affordable and efficient solar-plus storage systems. For solar PV to become attractive without subsidies, there is also a need to unlock deployment on buildings in the commercial sector, where around 380GW-worth of south-facing commercial rooftop space is available. Claudia Preedy
B2B Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Covered in this Report
      • Executive Summary

          • The market
            • Solar PV installations collapse in 2016 and 2017 following government policy change
              • Figure 1: Photovoltaic Installations in the UK, 2010-17
            • Ground-mounted sector moves into post-subsidy phase
              • Availability of cheaper and more efficient solar-plus storage systems to drive roof-top solar PV sector
                • Solar companies are turning attention to the new build sector and local authorities
                  • Largely untapped commercial sector offers huge growth potential
                    • Overall solar PV deployment set for modest growth between 2018 and 2022
                      • Figure 2: Forecast new photovoltaic capacity installed in the UK, 2018-22
                    • Companies and brands
                      • Abrupt government policy changes result in many companies exiting UK solar PV sector
                        • Installers are diversifying into energy storage, energy efficiency and EV charging
                          • The consumer
                            • 41% of respondents would consider having solar panels installed if a solar company/installer proved the cost savings to them
                              • Nearly a third of homeowners would consider having solar panels installed if more cost-effective energy storage systems become available
                                • Figure 3: Reasons for considering having solar panels installed, May 2018
                              • What we think
                              • Issues and Insights

                                • Commercial sector offers huge growth potential for solar PV despite some barriers to deployment
                                  • The facts
                                    • The implications
                                      • Growing number of companies are moving into nascent solar-plus storage market
                                        • The facts
                                          • The implications
                                          • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                            • UK sees dramatic fall in solar PV installs in 2016 and 2017 following government policy change
                                              • Future growth in residential rector to be driven by ‘paid-for’ solar plus storage systems
                                                • Solar PV still offers an attractive and viable option for commercial sector
                                                  • Ground-mounted sector moves into post-subsidy phase
                                                  • Market Size

                                                    • Introduction
                                                      • Nearly 13GW of solar PV installed in UK
                                                        • UK sees dramatic fall in solar PV installs in 2016 and 2017 following government policy change
                                                          • Figure 4: Photovoltaic installations in the UK, 2011-18
                                                          • Figure 5: Photovoltaic installations in the UK, 2010-17
                                                      • Market Segmentation

                                                        • Overview
                                                            • Figure 6: Photovoltaic Installations in the UK, by capacity of installation, 2012-18
                                                            • Figure 7: Photovoltaic installations in the UK, by accreditation scheme, 2012-18
                                                            • Figure 8: Photovoltaic installed capacity in the UK, by size, as of June 2017
                                                          • Residential solar PV market
                                                            • Drastic cuts in FITs in early 2016 result in slump in residential solar PV installations
                                                              • ‘Free solar’ versus paid-for installations
                                                                • Future growth to be driven by ‘paid-for’ solar plus storage systems
                                                                    • Figure 9: Residential photovoltaic installation capacity installed in the UK, 2012-18
                                                                  • Building-mounted solar PV market
                                                                    • Figure 10: Building mounted photovoltaic installation capacity installed in the UK, 2012-18
                                                                    • Figure 11: Building mounted photovoltaic installed capacity in the UK, by size, mid 2018
                                                                  • Companies continue to face barriers to deployment in commercial solar PV market
                                                                    • Commercial roof-top market damaged by sharp business rate hikes in April 2017
                                                                      • But solar PV still offers an attractive and viable option for commercial sector
                                                                        • Ground-mounted solar PV market
                                                                          • Ground-mounted sector moves into post-subsidy phase
                                                                            • Emergence of PPAs present growth opportunities for ground-mounted solar PV installations
                                                                              • 8.3 GW installed capacity across 1,122 solar farms operational
                                                                                  • Figure 12: Ground mounted and large scale photovoltaic installation capacity installed in the UK, 2012-18
                                                                                • Community solar PV installations
                                                                                  • New business models starting to emerge
                                                                                      • Figure 13: Number of community FIT energy installations, Q2 2013-Q1 2018
                                                                                  • Regional Trends

                                                                                    • Regional development
                                                                                      • London aims to boost solar PV deployment as part of the capital’s environment strategy
                                                                                        • Figure 14: Household penetration of photovoltaic installations in Great Britain, by region, 2014-18
                                                                                        • Figure 15: Regional distribution of photovoltaic installations in Great Britain, by type and region, cumulative as of June 2018
                                                                                    • The European/World Context

                                                                                          • Figure 16: World, EU and UK cumulative photovoltaic installations, 2012-17
                                                                                          • Figure 17: World development of photovoltaic installations, 2010-16
                                                                                      • Market Forecast

                                                                                        • Drastic government policy changes prove highly detrimental to solar PV sector
                                                                                          • Solar PV subsidy cuts contribute to significant fall in UK clean energy investment
                                                                                            • Ground-mounted sector moves into post-subsidy phase
                                                                                              • Increased availability of affordable and efficient solar-plus storage systems to drive take-up of roof-top solar PV
                                                                                                • Solar companies are turning their attention to new build sector and local authorities
                                                                                                  • Largely untapped commercial sector offers huge growth potential
                                                                                                    • Overall solar PV deployment set for modest growth between 2018 and 2022
                                                                                                      • Figure 18: Forecast photovoltaic installed capacity in the UK, 2018-22
                                                                                                      • Figure 19: Forecast new photovoltaic capacity installed in the UK, 2018-22
                                                                                                  • Market Trends

                                                                                                    • Growing number of companies are moving into nascent solar-plus storage market
                                                                                                      • Advancements in building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) make solar PV more aesthetically pleasing
                                                                                                        • Utility sector offers opportunities for solar firms
                                                                                                          • Solar carports represent an emerging market
                                                                                                          • Government Policy and Legislative Environment

                                                                                                            • UK committed to reducing carbon emissions by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050
                                                                                                              • UK currently on track to miss emission reduction targets between 2023 and 2032
                                                                                                                • Policies to decarbonise electricity
                                                                                                                  • Renewables Obligation
                                                                                                                    • Contracts for Difference
                                                                                                                      • Feed-in Tariffs
                                                                                                                        • Drastic cuts to FITs cause roof-top solar PV deployment to plummet over 2016 and 2017
                                                                                                                          • Figure 20: UK feed in tariff levels, 1 July 2018-30 September 2018
                                                                                                                        • Capacity Market
                                                                                                                        • Market Drivers

                                                                                                                          • New housebuilding sector offers huge growth potential for solar PV companies
                                                                                                                            • Social rented sector attracts interest from solar PV companies
                                                                                                                                • Figure 21: RESIDENTIAL dwelling stock in Great Britain, 2011-16
                                                                                                                              • Number of non-domestic properties
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 22: Number of non-domestic rateable properties in England & Wales, by sector and region, as at 1 April 2017
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 23: Number of non-domestic rateable properties in England & Wales, by property type, as at 31 March 2015
                                                                                                                                • PV prices falling rapidly
                                                                                                                                  • Anti-dumping duty on China solar panels
                                                                                                                                    • Tax breaks for solar panels and battery systems
                                                                                                                                      • Government commits funding for research and innovation in battery storage technology
                                                                                                                                        • UK energy mix and growth in renewable energy sector
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 24: Analysis of electricity generation the UK, by type of fuel used, 2013-17
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 25: Proportional importance of fuel source in UK electricity generation, 2013 and 2017
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 26: Renewable electricity generation in the UK, 2013-17
                                                                                                                                        • The UK climate
                                                                                                                                          • Other factors
                                                                                                                                          • Companies and Brands – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                                                            • Government policy change results in many companies exiting UK solar PV sector and job losses
                                                                                                                                              • Solarcentury and IKEA team up to offer residential solar systems and home batteries in UK
                                                                                                                                                • BSR launches behind-the-meter energy storage solutions provider
                                                                                                                                                  • BP invests in Lightsource to drive global solar expansion
                                                                                                                                                  • Industry Structure

                                                                                                                                                    • Abrupt government policy changes result in many companies exiting UK solar PV sector
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 27: Employment and number of companies active across UK solar PV supply chain, 2012-17
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 28: UK solar PV sector turnover, 2012-17
                                                                                                                                                    • Key industry players
                                                                                                                                                      • Installers are diversifying into energy storage, energy efficiency and EV charging
                                                                                                                                                        • Solar companies are looking for international expansion
                                                                                                                                                        • Company Profiles

                                                                                                                                                          • British Solar Renewables
                                                                                                                                                            • BSR launches behind-the-meter energy storage solutions provider in 2017
                                                                                                                                                              • Company strategy and outlook
                                                                                                                                                                • Financial performance
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 29: Financial analysis of British Solar Renewables
                                                                                                                                                                • EvoEnergy
                                                                                                                                                                  • Company strategy
                                                                                                                                                                    • Financial performance
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 30: Financial analysis of EvoEnergy, 2012-17
                                                                                                                                                                    • Lightsource Renewable Energy Investment
                                                                                                                                                                      • BP invests in Lightsource to drive global expansion
                                                                                                                                                                        • Strategy
                                                                                                                                                                          • Recent UK company developments
                                                                                                                                                                            • Financial performance
                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 31: Lightsource Renewable Energy Investments, 2016-17
                                                                                                                                                                            • Solar Century Holdings
                                                                                                                                                                              • Solarcentury and IKEA team up to offer residential solar systems and home batteries in UK
                                                                                                                                                                                • Solarcentury focusses on international expansion as UK market is hit by green cuts
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Company review and outlook
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 32: Financial analysis of Solar Century Holdings, 2014-18
                                                                                                                                                                                • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                                                                                                  • Strong support for solar PV among UK public
                                                                                                                                                                                    • 41% of respondents would consider having solar panels installed if a solar company/installer proved the cost savings
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Nearly a third of homeowners would consider having solar panels installed if more cost-effective energy storage systems become available
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Ownership

                                                                                                                                                                                        • Ownership levels of solar panels remain low
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 33: Ownership of solar panels, May 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Most people who have solar panels on their roofs have paid for them themselves
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 34: Payment of household’s solar panels and installation, May 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Attitudes towards Solar Panels

                                                                                                                                                                                        • 73% would like to see all new homes fitted with solar panels where suitable
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 35: Attitudes towards solar panels, May 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                          • 56% of homeowners would be interested in purchasing a solar-plus-battery storage system
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 36: Attitudes towards solar panels, May 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Future Intentions

                                                                                                                                                                                          • Solar companies need to accurately prove cost savings to homeowners to drive sales in residential solar PV market
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Nearly a third of homeowners would consider having solar panels installed if more cost-effective energy storage systems become available
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 37: Reasons for considering having solar panels installed, May 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                              • More than a third of people say they would not consider solar panels as they can’t afford them
                                                                                                                                                                                                • One in four put off from installing solar panels because of aesthetic reasons
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 38: Reasons for not considering having solar panels installed, May 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Methodology
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Further Sources and Contacts

                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Trade associations
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • British Photovoltaic Association
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Energy Networks Association
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Energy Industries Council
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Energy UK
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • SolarPower Europe
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • European Solar Thermal Industry Federation
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Micropower Council
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Office of Gas and Electricity Markets - Scotland (Ofgem Scotland)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Renewable Energy Association
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Solar Trade Association
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Trade magazines
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Renewable Energy Focus
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Solar Business Focus
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Solar UK
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Solar International
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Trade events
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • All-Energy Exhibition & Conference Aberdeen
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Future Resource Expo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Solar & Storage Live