Could UK businesses boost domestic solar adoption?

Article posted

18th Jan 2024

Read time

3-5 min read


Mollie Pinnington

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The sun shines on all, literally and figuratively, when it comes to solar energy. While the UK's residential solar market has seen steady growth, it lags behind many other nations. However, new research suggests a surprising potential catalyst: the rise of non-residential solar installations.

Recent data analysis offers tantalizing hints that seeing solar panels atop factories, schools, and businesses might nudge more homeowners towards their own panels. This "spillover effect" could work through several channels:


Visibility and Normalization

Seeing solar in action, beyond the occasional eco-conscious home, can normalize the technology and make it seem more familiar and attainable for individuals. It's no longer a fringe concept, but a practical energy solution used by diverse entities.


Social Influence and Imitation

 Neighbors and communities can influence each other's choices. Witnessing others adopt solar, especially local businesses or institutions, can trigger a sense of "keeping up with the Joneses" or a desire to contribute to a collective shift towards renewable energy.


Demonstration Effect

Non-residential projects often involve larger installations, showcasing the technology's efficiency and power generation potential. This can give homeowners a clearer picture of what solar could do for their own energy needs and bills.


Information Spillover

 Positive experiences and knowledge gained from non-residential projects can trickle down to homeowners. Businesses might share installation details, performance data, or installer recommendations, easing the path for residential adoption.


The evidence for this spillover effect is still emerging, and more research is needed to solidify the link. However, initial studies in the UK and other countries like Germany and the United States show promising trends. For example, a UK study found that a 10% increase in non-residential solar capacity was associated with a 2% increase in residential installations.

While the exact mechanisms and magnitude of the spillover effect remain under investigation, its potential significance is undeniable. If confirmed, it could offer valuable insights for policymakers and renewable energy advocates:

  • Targeted Support for Non-Residential Solar: Policies and incentives aimed at boosting non-residential installations could indirectly benefit residential adoption through the spillover effect.
  • Community Engagement and Education: Raising awareness about the positive influence of non-residential solar projects within communities can further enhance the spillover effect.
  • Sharing Success Stories: Highlighting successful non-residential solar installations and their impact on local communities can inspire and inform potential residential adopters.

Ultimately, the sun might shine brighter for everyone when it shines on more than just houses. By supporting and showcasing non-residential solar, we could inadvertently paving the way for a brighter, more sustainable future for UK homes as well.

This is just the beginning of the story. As research progresses and the UK's solar landscape evolves, it will be fascinating to see how the sun's rays connect communities and illuminate the path towards a cleaner, more renewable energy future.

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