Data published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) suggest that some parts of Wales have embraced solar PV technology more readily than others.
DECC calculates that more than 23,000 homes in Wales now benefit from solar photovoltaic panels, which are typically installed on rooftops to generate energy via sunlight. Converted into electricity or hot water that can be used throughout the home, solar energy provides a cheap, sustainable alternative to fossil fuels.
Households are even paid to generate electricity from solar panels. Feed-In Tariffs (FITs) aim to subsidise the cost of installing solar panels, which have fallen in price over the past couple of years. The British Government has reduced FITs in line with manufacturing prices, so small-scale domestic exporters are now paid 16p/kWh instead of the 43.3p/kWh rate that was available before January last year.
Far from deterring Welsh households from installing solar panels, the lower subsidies have seemingly encouraged many to cash in before a further rate reduction is announced; in fact, many parts of Wales are now outperforming the UK average in terms of solar installations per number of households.
In Wrexham, 509 solar installations are installed for every 10,000 homes. Totalling approximately 3,000, this ratio is the second highest in the UK. The ratio of solar installations in Monmouthshire and Torfaen has also increased, rising to 327 and 301 respectively. In South Wales, however, the ratio in seven local authorities is below the UK average, which is currently 118 per 10,000 homes.
DECC figures show that solar photovoltaic capacity increased throughout the UK during the first nine months of 2012, rising by 2.4 per cent over the year (Q3 2011 to Q3 2012). Research by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology claims installed solar capacity in the UK has increased by a factor of 20 since Q2 2010.
As quoted by Wales Online, Bob Dutton, of Wrexham Council, said: “We have made a significant investment in solar PV over the past 18 months, installing almost 3,000 systems on council-owned domestic properties.
“The project demonstrates the council’s commitment to carbon reduction and has also helped to create local jobs, reduce levels of fuel poverty and create a long-term sustainable income stream for the council via Feed-In Tariff payments”.