Using solar panels to generate clean, renewable energy
Solar panels capture the sun’s energy and use it to either heat water or convert it into electricity. They don’t need direct sunlight to work and will still produce some energy on a cloudy day.
Solar electricity is a green, renewable energy and doesn’t release any pollutants.
How much solar energy you could make
You can get a rough idea of how much energy you can make from solar panels using our solar map.
The map uses colours to show the sun's strength on unshaded roof space:
Limited or no unshaded roof space
Types of solar panels, costs and savings
Solar Photovoltaic (PV)
Solar PV uses energy from the sun to produce electricity. The average home system will provide 3 to 4kW of electricity and cost between £5,000 and £8,000.
With this type of system you can get paid for generating your own electricity and selling your surplus back to the grid through the Feed-in Tariff (GOV.UK) scheme.
Using the Solar Energy Calculator from the Energy Savings Trust, you can estimate the savings you could make by installing a solar system and the payment you could receive from the Feed-in Tariff.
Solar water heating
Solar water heating uses energy from the sun to heat water. The average home system costs between £3,000 and £5,000. You may be eligible to receive payments for using a renewable heating system through the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (GOV.UK).
Find an installer
We recommend using an installer who is certified by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). This is essential if you want to use the Feed-in Tariff scheme.
You can search for a certified installer on the MCS website.
You don’t usually need planning permission to install solar panels on your home. There are some restrictions, which you can read about on the Planning Portal website. If you live in a listed building, you’ll need listed building consent. If you live in a conservation area, you’ll need planning permission if the panels are fitted on the principal or side wall and are visible from the road.
Building regulations will normally apply if you want to install solar panels on your roof. For example, the strength of the roof will need to be checked. An installer who is certified by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) will be able to advise further.