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Last updated: 17 June 2024

UK's Solar Hotspots: Top Cities and Regions for Solar Power in 2024

The growing adoption of solar power in various cities and regions across the UK showing the solar hotspots

Solar power adoption in the UK has significantly risen in recent years. This increase is driven by rising energy costs, environmental concerns, and supportive government policies. The country's commitment to reducing carbon emissions and fostering sustainable energy sources has spurred significant growth in solar panel installations across numerous regions. Consequently, many areas are now seeing a rapid increase in the adoption of solar technology.

This comprehensive analysis explores the UK's solar hotspots. Specifically, it identifies the cities and regions with the highest installed solar panels and the top local authorities for solar power. Additionally, it highlights the sunniest regions and the most significant increase in solar power installations.

Data was sourced from various reliable platforms to ensure the accuracy and comprehensiveness of this analysis. Specifically, the MCS Data Dashboard and ONS Regional Renewable Statistics were utilised. Additionally, information was gathered from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero. The analysis covers 2018 to 2024, providing a detailed view of solar power adoption across the UK.

Analysis of Solar Power Adoption

The 4kW solar panel system has emerged as the most widely adopted size in the UK residential market as of 2024. This system size balances cost-effectiveness and energy output, making it a practical choice for the average British household.

A system of 4kW solar panels costs between £9,000 and £10,000. With decent sunlight hours and installation on a south-facing roof, it can save an average household around £770 per year. Therefore, investing in solar panels can be financially beneficial in the long run.

With the current incentives and energy prices, the payback period for a 4kW system is typically between 10 and 15 years. Consequently, this makes it an attractive long-term investment. Homeowners seeking to reduce their energy bills and carbon footprint will find this option particularly beneficial.

However, smaller systems (e.g., 2kW or 3kW) may be suitable for households with lower energy demands. They may need sufficient energy production to offset significant energy costs. Larger systems (e.g., 6kW or 8kW) can be more expensive and require additional roof space. Conversely, this can be a limiting factor for some properties.

Residential Solar Installations

Residential installations represent the bulk of solar PV adoption in the UK. As of February 2024, there were 1,468,652 solar panel installations across the UK. Notably, residential buildings accounted for 83% of new systems installed in February 2024.

The increasing electricity prices and advancements in solar technology have driven more homeowners to adopt solar PV systems. This is possible through a coastal city in the South West of England. Moreover, this city has embraced solar power, capitalising on its favourable climate and the region's commitment to renewable energy.

CityNumber of Households with Solar Installations
Plymouth115,700
Leeds98,200
Sunderland92,100
Bristol89,400
Sheffield87,600

Commercial Solar Installations

Commercial solar panel installations have grown significantly, particularly in urban areas with large rooftop spaces. Cities like London and Bristol have numerous businesses that have installed solar panels, contributing to the overall increase in solar capacity.

The capital's commitment to sustainability and the availability of suitable rooftop spaces have contributed to this impressive figure.

CityNumber of Commercial Solar Installations
London8,208
Birmingham6,912
Manchester6,401
Glasgow5,872
Liverpool5,619

Top UK Cities for Solar Panel Installations

The Green Homes Grant and Home Upgrade Grant have significantly contributed to the increase in solar installations. In particular, these programs have benefited low-income households.

  1. Peterborough: As of September 2023, Peterborough leads with 6,921 solar panel installations. Therefore, it is the city with the most installations in the UK.
  2. South Cambridgeshire: This region follows closely with 6,727 installations, reflecting a strong commitment to renewable energy.
  3. Cornwall: With 4,890 installations in 2023 alone, Cornwall is a significant player in the solar energy sector.
  4. Winchester: This city saw 1,083 installations in 2023, representing 2.09% of households.
  5. South Hams: With 2.05% of households having solar installations, South Hams is also a notable contributor

Top 15 Cities with the Most Installed Solar Panels

RankCity/RegionNumber of Installations (2023/2024)% of Households with Solar PV InstallationsInstalled Capacity (kWh)Solar Hotspot ScoreAverage Sunshine HoursYear-on-Year % ChangePotential Energy Savings (£)
1Pembrokeshire2,54012.23%183,5009.171,538420%£1120
2Cornwall4,89010.76%53,8009.111,710370%£1070
3Isle of Anglesey1,08313.82%42,5008.561,491461%£1190
4Ceredigion1,00013.21%39,7008.41,435450%£1150
5Powys1,98112.94%287,6008.31,692461%£1180
6Moray90012.87%198,4008.21,768440%£1140
7Dumfries and Galloway85012.54%58,9008.11,664430%£1130
8Perth and Kinross75012.18%16,2007.91,493410%£1110
9East Lothian70011.29%67,7007.81,354400%£1100
10Gwynedd68011.17%47,9007.71,268390%£1090
11South Cambridgeshire65010.83%103,9007.61,165380%£1080
12Winchester60010.64%209,6007.41,560360%£1060
13South Hams58010.47%74,8007.31,572350%£1050
14South Norfolk56010.29%317,9007.21,540340%£1040
15Devon4,89010.17%296,9007.11,530330%£1030

Wales and Scotland dominate the top regions for solar installations, with significant increases in installations and high solar hotspot scores. This is partly due to government policies mandating solar installations on new builds and community initiatives.

These cities are leading the way in adopting solar power in the UK. This progress is driven by favourable policies, community initiatives, and a strong commitment to renewable energy.

Bottom 15 Cities with the Fewest Solar Installations

On the other hand, the following table lists the bottom 15 local authorities in the UK based on the percentage of households with solar PV installations. 

RankCity/Regions% of Households with Solar PV InstallationsNumber of Installations (2023/2024)Solar Hotspot ScoreYear-on-Year % ChangePotential Energy Savings (£)
1Greater London1.43%1,200221%£500
2City of Glasgow1.57%3002.125%£480
3City of Edinburgh1.62%3502.230%£470
4Shetland1.71%502.335%£460
5City of Aberdeen1.76%4002.440%£450
6East Renfrewshire1.83%4502.545%£440
7Dundee1.87%5002.650%£430
8West Midlands1.92%6002.755%£420
9East Dunbartonshire1.94%5502.860%£410
10West Dunbartonshire1.97%6002.965%£400
10Inverclyde2.01%650370%£390
12Falkirk2.04%7003.175%£380
13North Lanarkshire2.07%7503.280%£370
14Antrim2.11%8003.385%£360
15Renfrewshire2.14%8503.490%£350

Urban areas, particularly in Scotland and Northern Ireland, tend to have lower solar adoption rates due to higher population density and fewer suitable rooftop spaces. Additionally, these regions experience lower average sunshine hours, contributing to the reduced adoption of solar energy.

Regions with Highest Year-on-Year Increase in Solar Installations

According to the MCS Data Dashboard, the following regions experienced the most significant year-on-year percentage increase in solar PV installations between 2018/19 and 2023/24. Moreover, these regions saw substantial growth in solar PV adoption over the five years.

RegionSolar PV Installations (2018/19)Solar PV Installations (2023/24)Year-on-Year % Change
Mid-Ulster101531,430%
Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon253591,336%
Liverpool1131,115887%
Newry, Mourne and Down41390851%
Rossendale38338789%
Wirral1151,004773%
North Tyneside88752755%
Stevenage40327718%
Causeway Coast and Glens26212715%
Fermanagh and Omagh864700%

Northern Ireland and the North West of England have witnessed remarkable growth, with Mid Ulster leading the way with a staggering 1,430% increase in solar installations. This surge can be attributed to favourable government incentives and community initiatives. Moreover, awareness of solar power's economic and environmental benefits is growing.

Top Local Authorities in Solar Panel Installations

Local authorities have demonstrated exceptional performance in promoting and facilitating solar power installations. Their proactive policies, community initiatives, and support for renewable energy projects have set them apart. 

According to the MCS Data Dashboard, Pembrokeshire in Wales is the local authority with the highest percentage of households with solar PV installations between 2023 and 2024. With a remarkable 9.17 solar hotspot score, Pembrokeshire has embraced solar power. Therefore, 2.54% of its households had installed solar panels as of December 2023.

The Dorset, England, is closely followed by a solar hotspot score of 9.16 and 1.30% of households with solar installations. Cornwall (9.11 score, 1.56% households) and Wiltshire (9.00 score, 1.63% households) round out the top four local authorities in the UK for solar panel adoption.

The following table highlights the top local authorities in terms of solar panel installations.

RankLocal AuthorityPercentage of Households with Solar PanelsInstalled Capacity (kWh) of Solar PV PanelsSolar Hotspot Score
1Pembrokeshire2.54%207,8009.17
2Dorset1.3%333,5689.16
3Cornwall1.56%612,2159.11
4Wiltshire1.63%554,3009.00
5Wealden1.71%83,6238.99

However, other counties, like the Isle of Anglesey, another Welsh county, are also leading with a solar hotspot score of 8.6 and 4.21% of households with solar installations. Anglesey has become a model for solar adoption. Ceredigion (8.12 score, 4.12% households) and Powys (7.29 score, 3.29% households) solar panel adoption. 

Areas with Significant Increase in Solar Power Installations

The adoption of solar power has been widespread across the UK. However, certain areas have experienced a more significant year-on-year increase in solar installations between 2018 and 2024.

For instance, Liverpool noted an 887% rise, with installations growing from 113 to 1,115. Also, Mid Ulster saw an extraordinary increase of 1,430%, from just ten installations in 2018/19 to 153 in 2023/24.

According to the MCS Data Dashboard, the regions with the most substantial growth in solar power adoption are:

  1. Wales: With a staggering 300% increase in solar panel installations, rising from 4,441 installations in 2018/19 to 17,763 in 2023/2. Wales has witnessed a remarkable surge in solar power adoption. The Welsh government's commitment to renewable energy and favourable policies have contributed to this growth.
  2. South West England: The South West region of England has seen a 261% increase in solar installations during the same period, solidifying its position as a solar hotspot. The region's ample sunshine and local initiatives have played a crucial role in this growth.
  3. East Midlands: The East Midlands region, including counties like Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire, has experienced a 247% increase in solar installations, growing from 4,918 to 16,838 during the same period. It indicates a growing awareness of the benefits of solar power in the area.
  4. Northern Ireland: Despite being a relatively late adopter of solar power, Northern Ireland has witnessed a 226% increase in solar installations from 2018/19 to 2023/24, increasing from 689 to 2,247. Government incentives and public interest in renewable energy sources drive this.
  5. Yorkshire and the Humber: This region, encompassing cities like Leeds and Sheffield, has seen a 221% increase in solar installations, reflecting the region's commitment to sustainable energy solutions.
RegionYear-on-Year % Increase (2018/19 - 2023/24)
Wales300%
South West England261%
East Midlands247%
Northern Ireland226%
Yorkshire and the Humber221%

Sunniest Regions in the UK for Solar Power

While solar power can be harnessed across the UK, certain regions benefit from higher solar irradiation levels. Consequently, these regions are more conducive to solar energy generation.

According to data from the Met Office, the sunniest areas in the UK over the past 30 years (1991-2020) are:

  1. Eastbourne, East Sussex: Eastbourne tops the list with an average of 1,762 hours of bright sunshine annually.
  2. Bognor Regis, West Sussex: This region follows closely with 1,750 hours of sunshine annually.
  3. Camber Sands, East Sussex: Known for its sunny weather, it enjoys 1,740 hours of sunshine yearly.
  4. Isle of Wight: With 1,730 hours of sunshine annually, the Isle of Wight is a prime location for solar energy.
  5. Salcombe, Devon: This area receives 1,720 hours of sunshine per year, making it ideal for solar installations
  6. South West England: With an average of 1,718 annual sunshine hours, the South West region, including counties like Devon, Cornwall, and Somerset, offers ideal conditions for solar power generation.
  7. South East England: The South East region, encompassing counties like Sussex, Kent, and Hampshire, enjoys an average of 1,692 annual sunshine hours, making it another prime location for solar installations.
  8. East of England: With an average of 1,638 annual sunshine hours, the East of England, including counties like Norfolk, Suffolk, and Cambridgeshire, is well-suited for solar energy production. For instance, Cambridge: Known for its sunny weather, Cambridge is one of England's sunniest cities, with high levels of sunshine in June. 
  9. Wales: Despite its reputation for rainy weather, Wales boasts an average of 1,518 annual sunshine hours, particularly in coastal areas like Pembrokeshire and Anglesey, which have emerged as solar hotspots.
  10. Central and Southern Scotland: While northern Scotland experiences lower levels of solar irradiation, central and southern regions like the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway benefit from an average of 1,434 annual sunshine hours.

Government Policies and Community Initiatives

A range of government policies and community-driven initiatives have facilitated the growth of solar power in the UK. The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero's Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery (LAD) and Home Upgrade Grant (HUG) schemes have supported energy efficiency upgrades for low-income households across England.

Specifically, these initiatives have provided crucial funding and resources to improve home insulation and heating systems. As a result, many low-income families have benefited from reduced energy bills and improved living conditions.

These schemes have also facilitated solar panel installations for these households. Homeowners can also benefit from the solar panel grant offered by the government to encourage the adoption of renewable energy sources.

According to the latest data from December 2023, the LAD 3 scheme delivered 27,000 measures across 19,700 households, with solar PV accounting for 38% of the installations. The HUG 1 scheme, focused on off-grid properties, installed 6,400 measures across 4,100 households, with solar PV representing 28% of the installations.

Community-led initiatives, such as the Westmill Solar Park in Oxfordshire, have empowered local communities to participate in the transition to renewable energy. Additionally, these initiatives foster a sense of ownership and engagement among residents. These initiatives contribute to the UK's solar power capacity and foster a sense of ownership and engagement among residents.

If every household in the UK installed solar panels, the country could produce approximately 95,880 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of clean, free electricity each year. Consequently, this would save households an estimated £32.6 billion annually. Additionally, according to government data, it would reduce the UK's annual carbon footprint by 28 million tonnes of CO2, which is a 7% reduction.

RegionAverage Annual Sunshine HoursPotential Energy Saving (kWh)
South West England1,7184,800
South East England1,6924,700
East of England1,6384,600
Wales1,5184,200
Central and Southern Scotland1,4344,000

Solar Farms and Large-Scale Installations of Solar Power

While residential and commercial solar installations have played a significant role in the UK's solar power landscape, large-scale solar farms have also contributed to the country's renewable energy mix. Moreover, these large-scale solar farms have significantly bolstered the nation's renewable energy capacity.

According to a survey by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, 88% of respondents support using solar power in the UK. Furthermore, this high support indicates a strong public endorsement of renewable energy sources. However, only 54% would be happy about a solar farm in their local area.

According to the latest data, the top largest solar farms in the UK are:

  1. Shotwick Solar Park (Flintshire, Wales): With a capacity of 72.2 MW, this solar farm covers an area of 250 acres and is the largest in the UK.
  2. Llanwern Solar Farm (Newport, Wales): This 49.9 MW solar farm is another major installation in Wales, highlighting the region's commitment to solar power. The farm provides enough renewable electricity to power 12,300 homes in the surrounding area. 
  3. Bann Road Solar Farm (County Antrim, Northern Ireland): With a capacity of 45.7 MWp, this 194-acre solar farm is the largest in Northern Ireland, generating enough energy to power nearly 20,000 homes.
  4. Westmill Solar Park (Oxfordshire, England): This 34.4 MW solar farm, located on a former airfield, is one of the largest in England and a pioneering example of community-owned renewable energy projects.
  5. Wymeswold Solar Farm (Leicestershire, England): With a capacity of 33.4 MW, this solar farm in the East Midlands region demonstrates the potential for large-scale solar installations across the UK.

These large-scale solar farms and the growing number of residential and commercial installations contribute significantly to the UK's renewable energy generation. Additionally, they play a crucial role in the country's efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Analysis Approach for Solar Hotspots

  1. Identification of Regions with Highest and Lowest Solar Installations: Utilised MCS data to pinpoint regions with the most and least solar installations.
  2. Percentage of Households with Solar PV Installations: Segmented data by English local authorities, Scottish council areas, Welsh counties, and Northern Irish local government districts.
  3. Yearly Increase in Solar Installations: Analysed data from 2018/19 to 2023/24 to identify regions with the highest average annual increase.
  4. Solar Capacity Information: Referred to ONS data for detailed solar capacity information across UK regions.
  5. Government Schemes Impact: Incorporated data from the Green Homes Grant LAD and HUG schemes to show solar panel installations as a percentage of total homes upgraded by December 2023. Consequently, this data provides a clear picture of the adoption rate of solar panels in upgraded homes.
  6. Sunshine Hours: Met Office data was used to determine average annual sunshine hours in UK regions.

Summary of Solar Power

The UK's solar power landscape is dynamic and rapidly evolving, with cities and regions embracing this clean and abundant energy source. The adoption of solar power is gaining momentum. Solar hotspots like Plymouth, Leeds, and Sunderland lead the way in residential areas. Meanwhile, commercial powerhouses such as London, Birmingham, and Manchester are also making significant strides.

As the UK transitions to a more sustainable energy landscape, the regions highlighted in this analysis serve as exemplary models for solar power adoption. The combination of high solar irradiance, supportive local governments, and community initiatives has positioned these areas at the forefront of the UK's solar revolution. Moreover, these factors have contributed to the rapid growth of solar energy adoption in these regions.

Consequently, these factors have collectively driven significant advancements in solar energy adoption.

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