Solar Panels Northern Ireland

More and more people in Northern Ireland are embracing solar energy to cut electricity bills, reduce grid reliance, and contribute to a greener, more sustainable future.

For the 12 months between January and December 2023, 45.8% of the total electricity consumption in Northern Ireland was generated from renewable sources.

With rising energy prices, a solar panel system is an effective way to generate free, renewable energy for your home.

Northern Ireland has good conditions for solar panels, and you can still generate power effectively even on cloudy days.

Here’s everything you need to know about solar panels in northern Ireland.

Key Takeaways:

  • Solar panel capacity has been growing steadily in Northern Ireland
  • Although there are no solar panel grants in Northern Ireland, you can use routes like 0% VAT or the Barclays Greener Home Reward to make installations affordable.
  • Consider whether you need planning permission and comply with building regulations and engineering standards when installing solar panels in Northern Ireland.

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Solar Panel Trends in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has been growing its solar capacity since 2011, with statistics showing an installed solar PV capacity of 352 megawatts by the end of 2022.

Northern Ireland residents consumed 7,297 Gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity in 2023, with 3,341 GWh coming from renewable sources.

The amount generated from renewable sources decreased by 5.3% compared to 2022, showing that more people and businesses need to adopt renewable energy if Northern Ireland is to meet the commitments of the Climate Change Act (NI) target.

The Climate Change Act (NI) makes it a legal requirement for Northern Ireland to ensure that at least 80% of the electricity consumed is from renewable sources by 2030.

With increasing efficiencies and decreasing costs, solar panels can be vital in helping more homeowners across Northern Ireland switch to renewable energy to help meet the Climate Change Act (NI) target.

If you’re still learning about solar, refer to our complete advice section for more help and advice, which includes guides on the best solar panels, costs of installing solar and if solar is worth it.

What are the Benefits of Solar Panels in Northern Ireland?

Solar panels can offer various benefits to homeowners and businesses in Northern Ireland. These include:

Energy Bill Savings

The Energy Savings Trust points out that the average household can save from £310 to £495 annually on electricity bills by using the energy they generate with solar panels in Northern Ireland.

The amount you save can depend on factors like the amount of solar electricity you can use and where you live.

Reduced Carbon Emissions

Solar panels are a more sustainable alternative to fossil fuels, which release toxic emissions that contribute to climate change and global warming.

Solar panels are a source of clean, low-carbon energy that doesn’t impact the environment. A typical home solar panel system in Northern Ireland can help save around one tonne of carbon annually.

Decrease or Eliminate Grid Reliance

Solar panels can help you generate enough electricity to meet your household’s needs, meaning you won’t need to buy electricity from the grid.

Adding a battery can help you go entirely off-grid and is an ideal choice for homes in rural areas with frequent outages or unreliable grid power.

Improved Property Values

More homebuyers want to live greener lifestyles while saving on energy costs due to an increased awareness of environmental sustainability and soaring energy costs.

Solar panels can help you maximise your property’s value by improving its energy performance and making it more attractive to potential buyers.

Research by Solar Energy UK shows homes fitted with solar panels feature a statistically significant price premium of between 0.9% and 2%.

Are There Any Solar Panel Grants In Northern Ireland?

No. Currently, there are no government solar panel grants available in Northern Ireland.

However, various routes are available to help make installing solar panels more affordable. These include:

0% VAT on Solar Panel Installations

From April 2022 to March 2027, the VAT for installing energy-saving materials (ESMs) like solar panels in residential properties dropped to 0%.

The measure extended to Northern Ireland from May 2023 and aims to incentivize the take-up of ESMs across the whole of the UK in line with the government’s net zero objectives.

Barclays Greener Home Reward

If you have a residential, owner-occupier mortgage with Barclays Bank and pay for the mortgage through direct debit, you can qualify for the Barclays Greener Home Reward.

You can get a reward of £1,000 for installing solar panels, provided a TrustMark registered business or tradesperson does the installation.

If you apply after 01 February 2024, you’ll need to claim the reward within nine months from the date of application, and you’ll need to provide proof of the solar panel system installation. The proof can be an invoice with your name, date, and address.

What is the Cost of Solar Panels in Northern Ireland?

The cost of a 3.5kW solar panel system can range from £7,000 to £10,000 and can meet your energy demands if you have a three-bedroom house.

The Energy Saving Trust averages the cost of a domestic 3.5kW solar panel system at around £7,000.

The system would require around ten solar panels, and you can expect to pay around £150 to £300 for a single panel.

Factors that can impact the total cost of installing a solar system include:

  • The size of the system
  • Solar panel type
  • Labour and installation costs
  • Additional system components like solar inverters or solar battery

Are There Any Considerations Specific to Northern Ireland?

Planning Permission

Since they fall under permitted developments, you’ll likely not need permission to install solar panels in Northern Ireland.

However, you may need permission to install solar panels on listed buildings or conservation areas, so ensure you consult your local council.

Building Regulations

You must adhere to building regulations even when planning permission isn’t required. Regulations ensure installations are safe and don’t adversely affect your building’s integrity.

Engineering Standard

All solar panel installations in Northern Ireland must adhere to the Engineering Recommendation EREC G98/NI standard.

Once installed and brought online, the installer will register the system with Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) networks to verify grid connection. You can then register to export the generated electricity.

Final Thoughts on Solar Panels North Ireland

Installing solar panels in Northern Ireland can offer significant savings on electricity bills while providing independence from the grid and reducing your carbon footprint.

Ensure you consider the costs and benefits of installing solar panels and only use an installer accredited by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS).

Sources and References