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Rising number of UK homes installing heat pumps and solar panels but still 'unaffordable' for most

 Around 18,000 heat pumps and 120,000 solar panels have been installed in the first half of 2023
Around 18,000 heat pumps and 120,000 solar panels have been installed in the first half of 2023 Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Roselyne Min with AP
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Around 18,000 heat pumps and 120,000 solar panels have been installed so far in 2023 but subsidies aren’t enough to encourage more households.

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More houses in the United Kingdom are being fitted with solar panels and heat pumps amid a push by the UK government to hit its 2050 net-zero targets.

More than 120,000 solar panels have been installed since the start of the year, and over 3,000 heat pumps have been installed each month on average, according to Microgeneration Certification Scheme Service Company (MCS), the body that accredits low-carbon products, households and businesses.

Norman Pitt, a resident of Crowborough in the south of England, had solar panels, a heat pump and batteries fitted to his house.

It cost him nearly €35,000 but he sees it as an investment.

"Our electricity consumption costs have dropped like a stone. We're going green, saving our planet. We've also got an electric car. And this installation probably costs us a little more than it used to cost me to fill my car. So, we're fairly pleased," Pitt said.

The UK government is giving out subsidies of up to €7,000 per household in England and up to €10,400 in Scotland.

It aims to reach 70 GW of solar capacity by 2035 and 600,000 heat pump installations by 2028.

Cost of living crisis, inflation

However, a parliament committee found the uptake of grants was lower than expected.

Experts say the upfront cost of solar panels and heat pumps is unaffordable for most, especially as inflation soars despite the government funding.

"I think if we take a closer look at those figures, it's going to be people who are that bit wealthier," said Aimee Ambrose, professor of energy policy at Sheffield Hallam University.

"They are not the households that are struggling the most with the cost of living crisis. They are not the households that struggled the most to heat their homes to a safe and comfortable level".

She also stresses that low-income households are more likely to rent, and, therefore can't benefit from the scheme directly.

MCS is calling for more money in grants and vouchers each year.

It also highlights the need to build up the installation workforce, arguing that reaching the government's target would require 50,000 workers.

For more on this story, watch the video in the media player above.

Video editor • Roselyne Min

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