Accounting for a significant 73%, rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems have become the major contributor to the installed PV capacity in the UK

According to a recent research report released by a consulting firm, 73% of the new photovoltaic (PV) systems added in the UK in 2022 came from residential rooftop PV systems.

This signifies the fastest growth rate in installed capacity for rooftop PV systems in the UK since 2016. While this is seen as good news for the development of the UK solar industry, it does bring about some complex issues.Perhaps the most influential challenge brought about by this is the need for the transformation of the UK energy network in order to sustain the projected growth of the solar energy market.

Residential rooftop PV systems in the UK accounted for 69% of the newly installed PV system capacity by 2022. Some key factors to stimulate this growth are the ongoing energy crisis, continuously rising electricity prices, and the declining costs of solar panels and solar batteries.

In the past year, many PV developers have been discussing this issue. The escalation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict has exacerbated the energy crisis, leading to a spiraling increase in natural gas prices and nearly plunging the UK energy market into disaster.Considering this, renewable energy is seen as a cost-effective source of energy with the added benefit of being environmentally friendly. Consequently, there has been a growing interest in installing PV systems, a trend revealed in the data.This interest is also reflected in the growth of installed solar system capacity in the UK, which has now accumulated to 4.2 GW.

Despite these positive factors, there are indeed some drawbacks. There are limitations on the number of grid-connected generation facilities, a lack of investment in large-scale PV power plants, and lower electricity prices for power sold to the grid, which are expected to pose a challenge for the grid to accommodate more renewable energy generation. Additionally, the price for the Smart Export Guarantee .

Therefore, incentivizing homeowners who install rooftop PV systems to adopt battery energy storage systems to store excess energy can maximize their investment. While installing rooftop PV systems requires some space and expenditure, research shows that small-scale rooftop PV systems are growing at a rate not seen in seven years.

According a survey, the installed capacity of small-scale PV systems in the UK now accounts for one-fourth of the country’s total PV system capacity, and this number is rapidly increasing. This puts greater pressure on distribution network operators, forcing them to make significant changes to their technical stacks.

However, data indicates that homeowners are now exporting excess electricity back to the grid at a price of 4.9 pence/kWh. The wholesale prices paid by power companies are nearly ten times this price, while the current energy cap is nine times the payment price. Combined with the limited capacity of the grid to accommodate renewable energy generation, this often leads PV system owners to install distributed energy storage systems to store excess energy. This results in a more rigid and inefficient power supply and demand, as electricity must be transmitted over longer distances to meet user demands.

By helping distribution system operators leverage this trend and integrate distributed resources, we can maximize the role of transformative technologies such as the Internet of Things and intelligent automation to create a smarter transmission and distribution network, turning data from physical assets into actionable insights. This will create a more intelligent grid, providing greater control and better decision-making through data provided by smart meters and IoT devices. Studies suggest that small-scale rooftop PV systems have the potential to become meaningful participants in the grid.