Country Report - United Kingdom

Status of Solar Heating/Cooling and Solar Buildings - 2015

Status of the Market for Solar Thermal Systems

Market Size and Trends

Reference – STA (Solar Trade Association) data submitted to ESTIF for solar thermal deployment in the UK.

The data presented in the table represents domestic hot water systems only. However, the calculations for solar thermal generation in DUKES (table 6.6) ( submitted to IEA include additional estimates for swimming pool solar heating systems and the latest report will be available after 30th July 2015.


Solar thermal installations in the UK over the last five years (1m2=0.7kWth)


Solar Thermal in Year m2x1,000 (MWth)

Solar Thermal Running Total m2x1,000 (GWth)                  *net of retirements

Solar Thermal Running Total Installations x 1,000      (assuming 3m2 per unit)  


89.1 (62.4)

489.0 (0.34)



105.2 (73.6)

587.2 (0.41)



91.8 (64.3)

671.0 (0.47)



59.3 (41.5)

723.7 (0.51)



43.1 (30.2)

760.2 (0.53)



36.6 (25.6)

789.6 (0.55)



Typical Applications and Products

The majority of UK solar thermal installations are for domestic hot water:




Flat Plate

Vacuum Tube


2014 - Newly yearly installed capacity (m²)





2013 - Newly yearly installed capacity (m²)





Percentage by technology 2014





Total installed capacity in operation (m²) at the end of 2014






Main Market Drivers

National building codes focus on Carbon Dioxide emissions rather than energy consumption, so with gas heating delivered through a national network, and high carbon electricity generation in the UK, solar photovoltaics has become the favoured approach to meeting regulations, except off the gas grid where electrical heating tilts the playing field back towards solar thermal.

The Renewable Heat Incentive has failed to stimulate the market for solar thermal, which continues to contract in the UK.  There are technical issues in the regulations preventing the use of solar thermal with other renewable heating systems such as biomass and heat pumps.  The subsidy rate is relatively low compared to the Feed in Tariff for solar photovoltaics. Consequently the main driver for solar thermal in the UK is people wanting to ‘do the right thing’.


The UK has domestic solar thermal panel manufacturers – Viridian Solar, Thermatwin and AES Solar.  Together these account for approximately 10-15% of panel installations.  Other suppliers are own-labelling product made overseas.  There are a significant number of UK hot water cylinder manufacturers that make solar twin coil cylinders. Solar thermal systems are typically marketed through wholesale to installers to consumers.


No credible information.


If credible information exist on the costs of solar heating/cooling in your country, please include them here - ideally in comparison to other heating technologies/energy sources. Please indicate costs of typical domestic systems as total costs including all taxes, and for larger systems as total system costs per m2 (in this case without VAT)

A domestic water heating system is in the region of £3,500 to £5,500 installed, with the costs dependent on the size of the system, roof access, location of hot water cylinder relative to the panels.  If the installation is done at the same time as other work on the heating system (for example hot water cylinder replacement) the cost can be £1,500 lower.

Other Key Topics

Unknown longevity of Solar Thermal systems. Further studies on this would be helpful.

Status of the Market for Solar Buildings


Transpired Solar Collectors (TSCs) were first introduced to the UK, in the form of a pilot installation, in 2005 and their use has grown slowly (see below). TSCs are recognised within the UK’s Simplified Building Energy Model (SBEM), a tool used to support compliance with building regulations for non-domestic buildings.

Market Size and Trends

There are currently approximately 14,000m2 of TSCs installed in the UK within 33 industrial and commercial buildings, generating approximately 3.8MWh p.a. of renewable heat and with an installed capacity of 9.6MWth. A number of the UK’s largest industrial building cladding companies now offer TSCs as part of their standard product portfolios.

Main Market Drivers


  1. Cheaper and rapidly falling PV prices compared to solar thermal.
  2. Lack of demonstration projects with large building developers.
  3. Lack of sector coordination to remove market barriers.


No credible information.


No credible information.

R&D Activities

R&D Programmes

There is no dedicated national R&D programme for solar thermal. However, solar thermal projects can bid into a number of funding schemes backed by the UK public sector;

Energy Entrepreneurs Fund (EEF) – The objective of the Energy Entrepreneurs Fund (EEF) is to support, through capital grants, the development and demonstration of innovative technologies and/or processes in the areas of energy efficiency, power generation, energy storage and carbon capture and storage (CCS).

The scheme seeks the best ideas, irrespective of source, in these areas from the public and private sector. However, the scheme particularly aims to assist small and medium sized enterprises, including start-ups. Those companies that are selected will receive additional funding for incubation support.

The Energy Entrepreneurs Fund has been launched in three phases (c. £35m) –2012-2014. A further £5m will now be available for funding in this fourth phase for project expenditure up to 31st March 2016. Companies can apply for up to £1m per proposal, depending on the state aid requirements outlined in section 6 ( ). The scheme is run by the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Horizon 2020 - Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020). The goal is to ensure Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation. Horizon 2020 is open to everyone.

Energy Catalyst - The Energy Catalyst has been established by Innovate UK, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to accelerate innovation in the energy sector. Up to £10m is available for the third round of the Catalyst (from 30th April to 18th Nov 2015) to innovative businesses and researchers from any sector who can address the three major challenges facing the energy sector - the energy ‘trilemma' of:

• reducing emissions

• improving security of supply

• reducing cost

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) - EPSRC is the main UK government agency for funding research and training in engineering and the physical sciences, investing more than £800 million a year in a broad range of subjects - from mathematics to materials science, and from information technology to structural engineering.

R&D Infrastructure

R&D Institutions
Institution Type of Institution Relevant Research Areas IEA SHC Involvement Website
Dr Christos Markides Imperial College Clean Energy Processes Laboratory 1st year
Prof Graeme Maidmant LSBU Refrigeration and air conditioning graeme-maidment#course_inner_tab_Profile
Prof Saffa Riffat The University of Nottingham Institute of Building Technology & Institute of Sustainable Energy
i-STUTE Consortium of academic institutions interdisciplinary centre for Storage, Transformation and Upgrading of Thermal Energy
BRE National Solar Centre Consultancy, research, testing, standards, training and products related to Solar Thermal and PV Solar Thermal
SPECIFIC Consortium of academic and industrial partners Building Imntegrated Solar Thermal (BIST)
University of Cranfield - Dr Chris Sansom Academic Solar Thermal, CSP

Actual Innovations

PV-Thermal (PV-T) – Naked Energy, Natural Technology Developments, Flint Engineering (supported under EEF)

Solar absorption cooling – Solar Polar

TSCs – Energy Transitions Limited are commercialising an innovative low emissivity TSC

Support Framework


Climate Change Act 2008: (i) UK to reduce emissions by at least 80% in 2050 from 1990 levels, (ii) Carbon Budgets (

Government Agencies Responsible for Solar Thermal, for Solar Building Activities

Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Innovate UK, Welsh Government, Scottish Government, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

Most Important Public Support Measure(s) for Solar Thermal and for Solar Buildings

Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) - The Renewable Heat Incentive is a UK Government scheme set up to encourage uptake of renewable heat technologies amongst householders, communities and businesses through financial incentives.

Energy Entrepreneurs Fund (EEF)

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)

Horizon 2020

Energy Catalyst

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

Information Resources

National Solar Associations (industry and non-industry)

Solar Trade Association has a Solar Thermal working group:  Chaired by Stuart Elmes, Viridian Solar

Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) of Innovate UK - Solar Energy Systems Special Interest Group:   

Most Important Media for Solar Thermal and Solar Buildings

Government, Energy Savings Trust ( and Carbon Trust (, direct marketing information from manufactures and installers.