Does solar PV work well in the UK? Is it sunny enough?

By Ineco Energy Ltd
schedule25th Mar 22

Yes! Solar works well everywhere in the UK.

Solar panels don’t need direct sunlight to operate, and they produce power all year round. Solar PV is an effective technology around the country. Over a million homes, businesses, and landowners have installed solar panels over the past decade, which are providing electricity directly to residential and commercial premises, as well as the national grid.

Solar can already produce as much as 30% of UK electricity at different points in the year, and in 2020 provided more than 4% of the UK’s total supply. All UK solar markets are fully subsidy-free, and with a strong growth forecast for the next decade, solar’s contribution to the UK’s clean electricity will increase: if the UK achieves 40GW of solar capacity by 2030, solar could meet 15% of the UK’s annual power needs.

Even in winter, the technology is powerful and effective. For example, at one point in February 2022, solar was providing more than 20% of the UK’s electricity. Other countries on a similar latitude are also targeting significant solar deployment, such as Germany, which intends to set a 2030 capacity target of 200GW. The UK’s residential, commercial, and utility-scale solar markets are all performing extremely well, and 2021 saw huge growth, a reflection of the economic viability of solar. This is true for all parts of the country, including Scotland, which has a thriving solar industry. Indeed, in 2021 more than a quarter of systems accredited by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme around the UK were installed in Scotland. 

On an annual basis, solar power generation is extremely reliable, because the exact time of sunrise and sunset is known for each day, and hence the number of daylight hours available. It is, therefore, possible to forecast the electricity generation (“yield”) from a solar system very accurately. And none of the power produced goes to waste: for example, if a rooftop solar system is generating more electricity than is being consumed on-site, it can be fed into the national grid.

Solar technology also has few if any moving parts and is very reliable. With professional maintenance, solar systems should last for more than 30 years. As the cost of solar decreases, this means that with each passing year solar becomes, even more, economic, which is why there is now a huge investment in solar energy. For example, the utility-scale pipeline of solar power projects is 37GW, ten times the generation capacity of the planned nuclear plant at Hinkley Point.