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Sun shines brightly

The UK Feed-in-tariff has been around for one full year now, and solar panels are clearly becoming much more popular in the UK than ever before, explained CompareMySolar.com

A total amount of 77,864 kWp or 28,602 solar panel installations (average 2.7 kWp) have been reported to Ofgem, the government energy regulator, between April 1st 2010 and March 31st 2011. Over 90% of this was installed in England, and the rest in Scotland and Wales (Northern Ireland consumers can’t apply for FiTs for now). Looking at these UK solar panel installations, what are the most popular areas?

Using Ofgem data CompareMySolar created a UK map

showing the number of solar installations per county in the last year. Popular counties (> 500 solar panel installations) are located in three clusters. The first is the South-West, from Devon (931) and Cornwall (527) to Hampshire (918) due to the large amount of sunlight available in these counties.

The second is the richer counties around London in the South East (eg Kent) as these people are more likely to have larger roofs and financial means to buy solar panels. The third part are the counties in West-Yorkshire (820), South Yorkshire (1697) and Derbyshire (600). The main reason for the popularity here is the ‘Free-Solar’ option promoted by several local companies. Together these clusters of counties account for nearly 50% of installations. But what does that tell about the popularity of solar panels? To account for the number of people in each county we created the next graph, showing the installed solar panel capacity in Watt-peak per person


Counties with more than 2 Watt-peak per person are in the popular areas. From here you can clearly see the popularity in the warmer South-West region (eg Devon 3.4 Wp/person and Dorset 3.9 Wp/person). Also, the ‘Free Solar’ has resulted in 4.2 Wp/person in South Yorkshire. Surprisingly, the Isle of Wight (7.4 Wp/person) is most popular for solar panels in the UK. Putting the above in perspective, the 77 MW in the UK compares to over 7500 MW (7500 Million Wp) in Germany installed in 2010. Since they have a population of about 82 million, the installed capacity of solar panels in Germany was nearly 100 Wp per person in 2010 alone.