How has the Solar Industry been Affected by COVID-19?
Demand for solar panels has grown rapidly in recent years. We know this because our sister website, Solar Guide, has seen demand for quotes from solar installers rise by 261% between 2016 and 2019.
The COVID-19 pandemic has halted this growth but demand for solar installers remains high. Compared to 2016, enquiries were up 137% in 2020 despite national lockdowns and local restrictions.
Having spent more time indoors than previous years, public interest in lowering energy bills seemed to increase. And there's no better way to save money powering your home than by generating your own free renewable solar energy.
The impact of COVID-19 on solar
To understand the impact of COVID-19 on the solar industry, we totted up our enquiry numbers over the past 5 years. Looking at these numbers as a whole shows the growth in demand for solar installers as well as the impact of COVID-19 in 2020.
2016 only accounts for 9.6% of all requests for solar installers in the past 5 years. This is compared to 32% in 2019 – a pretty big jump in a relatively short space of time.
The numbers go down slightly to 21% in 2020. A clear sign that COVID-19 did have an impact on the solar industry.
|Year||Total Enquiries Over a 5 Year Period for Solar PV, Solar Thermal and Solar Batteries|
While enquiries did fall, 2020 wasn't too far behind 2018, showing that homeowner interest in solar was there throughout the year.
Why did solar enquiries fall?
Due to the pandemic, 2020 wasn't going to be able to continue the growth of previous years. We were in and out of lockdowns, people were being furloughed or losing their jobs and many solar companies were unable to work. So for some people who may have been considering solar panels, 2020 simply wasn't the right time.
Despite a drop in enquiries, homeowner appetite for solar remained. As soon as national lockdown restrictions were eased in the week commencing 6 July 2020, we saw our second biggest week of enquiries. This is a strong sign that as restrictions ease further in 2021, more homeowners will be in a position to pursue their plans of installing solar panels.
Solar thermal is in demand
In a year that saw requests for solar PV and battery installers take a noticeable drop, demand for solar thermal remained consistent. Solar thermal enquiries were only down 1% from 2019 to 2020 and up 300% compared to 2018.
Solar thermal panels (solar water heating systems) absorb heat from the sun and use it to warm water stored in a cylinder. Essentially giving a home free hot water. Add in the fact that they're incredibly low maintenance and don't emit carbon and it becomes clear why homeowners continued to turn to solar thermal.
For all of its problems, the Green Homes Grant scheme definitely played its part in keeping interest in solar thermal alive. Through the scheme (which ended up closing early), homeowners could receive a grant up to £5,000 to cover the installation costs of a renewable heating system.
Demand for quotes from solar thermal installers reached their peak for the year when the Green Homes Grant scheme was launched (9% of 2020 solar thermal enquiries).
Can solar recover after the pandemic?
As restrictions ease and life slowly returns to a form of normality, the number of homeowners requesting quotes is rising again. That goes for solar PV, thermal and battery installations.
Solar PV has always proven to be the most popular solar technology. And demand has been increasing rapidly in the first 3 months of 2021. Based on the number of enquiries made for solar PV in January, February and March, the solar industry is set for a big recovery.
You can see how well the industry is set to recover in the graph below which includes a projection for 2021.
As you can see, the future is already beginning to look brighter for the solar industry. The projection is higher than 2020 and isn't too far away from the 2019 peak. So in 2022 we could potentially see a record year.
|Year||Percentage of all Solar PV, Solar Battery and Solar Thermal Enquiries Over a 6 Year Period|
|2021 (projection based on enquiry numbers between January and March)||22.6%|
Get free solar thermal quotes
Any home with a hot water cylinder stands to benefit from a solar thermal heating system. During the day, rather than your boiler working to heat the water in a cylinder – driving your heating bills up – get energy from the sun to do the work. For free.
Using Solar Guide, you can get free quotes from solar installers in your area. All you need to do is take a couple of minutes to complete a simple online form. You'll soon be contacted by fully-qualified installers who will give a free no-obligation quote.
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