Solar thermal ahead of PV says report

There are around 24,000 installations of solar thermal units in UK domestic, commercial industrial applications, compared with between 6,000 and 7,000 solar photovoltaic units, according to a new report.

Solar thermal ahead of PV says report

AMA Reaserch’s Renewable Energy – Solar Thermal amd Photovoltaics Market – UK 2010-2020 finds that the dominance of solar thermal reflects thermal’s lower initial costs and wider use in domestic situations.

In comparison to other microgeneration technologies, solar thermal heating is by far the most popular with over 140,000 unit installations in total to date in the UK, having been on the market for over 30 years. It is estimated that an average system will reduce CO2 by up to 0.75 tonnes depending on the fuel it is replacing.

Photovoltaics (PV) is also seen to have significant potential as a market because there are very few planning issues and, if costs were reduced, almost 4% of UK electricity could be supplied using this technology – in addition carbon emissions could be reduced by 3%. However, prior to Photovoltaics becoming a commercially viable product, significant government support and incentives will be required, combined with major cost reductions to improve investment paybacks.

Growth up to 2008 has been low in the UK compared to many other countries, due to a combination of factors including high investment costs, low payback returns, lack of incentives, low consumer awareness. However, the report finds that this is now beginning to change, reflecting growing awareness of the need to increase usage of renewables at all levels, and a series of Government actions to meet renewables targets by 2020.

There are a wide range of market growth forecasts ranging up to 4 million installations by 2020. By contrast, we have forecast the uptake to be about 30,000 in 2010, rising to 180,000 p.a. in 2015 and 300,000+ by 2020. However, the optimism of the more ambitious DECC forecasts no doubt reflects the growth which has been achieved in other European countries in recent years as a result of the considerable financial incentives.

AMA Research’s report is available in hard copy or electronic format for £650 and can be ordered online at or by calling 01242 235724.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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