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Sun June 13 2021

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Wealth no indicator of solar uptake

16 May 13 Seven per cent of UK homes have installed solar panels in the past three years, according to government figures, but there are some surprising indicators, new research has found.

Some 362,000 homes in the UK have installed solar panels since April 2010, approximately one roof in every 70.

Analysis by environment & engineering consultancy WSP shows London has ranked lowest in the country for uptake.  London boroughs make up 23 of the 25 bottom ranking authorities.

WSP said that its study of solar uptake shows that despite concerns solar panels would be just for the rich because of high upfront costs, location is actually a far stronger factor, even more so than sunshine levels.  Affluence appears to be a weak factor only in determining installation rates.

Dumfries & Galloway, parts of Herefordshire and parts of Devon showed above average panel installation (one out of 40 roofs) but have some of the lowest per capita income.  The Orkney Islands  have similar levels of installation despite sunshine levels that are far below those in southern England.

The strongest indicator for panel installation was, in fact, rural vs urban living.  Installation rates in London, the Welsh Valleys and in the West Midlands lag far behind more rural areas in mid Wales and Cornwall and this was consistent across the UK.

Director David Symons commented: “While we might think that cities should be happy hunting grounds for solar sales, in reality houses in towns are smaller, their roofs are more likely to be obscured and there’s also less owner occupation.  Flats and apartments also have more than one household, but only one roof.  In contrast, houses in the country tend to be larger and have more space, so it’s more economical to put a panel on a roof in the country than in the city.  What seems clear is that - when combined with biomass, anaerobic digestion facilities and wind - there’s an increasing trend for the countryside to be the renewable power station of the city.”

Solar panels have been heralded as a success story for green energy in the UK but the reality is that even in the most popular areas for installations, 93% of households have no panels installed and in the lowest installation areas, such as Westminster, there are virtually no solar panels.

Mr Symons added: “If solar panels are going to be one of our green energies of the future our analysis shows there’s a lot more work to do.  Poorer performer housing associations have to be highlighted, there needs to be more trust in energy companies and installers and, ultimately, panels have to become more efficient and cheaper.”

Installations per 10,000 households

Source: ONS April 2013

Top 10

Bottom 10

1

Mid Devon

787

371

Hackney

20

2

Wrexham

552

372

Greenwich

18

3

South Hams

476

373

Camden

17

4

North Somerset

451

374

Newham

17

5

South Cambridgeshire

445

375

Southwark

15

6

South Norfolk

430

376

Hammersmith and Fulham

12

7

West Oxfordshire

420

377

Kensington and Chelsea

11

8

Isles of Scilly

413

378

City of London

8

9

Monmouthshire

409

379

Tower Hamlets

8

10

Torridge

402

380

Westminster

4

 

London Boroughs

Households

Domestic solar panel installations

Total solar panel installations

Installations per 10,000 households

1

Waltham Forest

               95,632

915

940

96

2

Bromley

             133,821

736

755

55

3

Havering

               99,760

491

511

49

4

Richmond upon Thames

               80,123

390

407

49

5

Kingston upon Thames

               63,701

294

308

46

6

Croydon

             142,512

581

604

41

7

Sutton

               79,122

302

319

38

8

Bexley

               94,871

341

415

36

9

Harrow

               85,563

295

303

34

10

Redbridge

               98,869

337

341

34

11

Ealing

             121,117

378

393

31

12

Merton

               79,465

235

263

30

13

Barnet

             135,506

393

406

29

14

Hillingdon

             103,653

297

308

29

15

Brent

             100,177

282

300

28

16

Lewisham

             113,592

305

324

27

17

Barking and Dagenham

               70,606

187

198

26

18

Hounslow

               92,946

241

262

26

19

Haringey

               88,037

228

254

26

20

Islington

               81,368

202

215

25

21

Enfield

             118,292

264

291

22

22

Lambeth

             115,801

244

261

21

23

Wandsworth

             121,177

243

273

20

24

Hackney

               90,429

179

191

20

25

Greenwich

             100,721

185

191

18

26

Camden

               80,587

141

147

17

27

Newham

               98,606

167

182

17

28

Southwark

             122,249

178

189

15

29

Hammersmith and Fulham

               69,708

83

91

12

30

Kensington and Chelsea

               67,557

71

74

11

31

City of London

                 4,738

4

7

8

32

Tower Hamlets

             102,798

79

85

8

33

Westminster

               94,484

39

49

4

           
 

Source: ONS, 2103

       

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