Social housing solar panels upgrade report

Marley solar panels on a domestic housing development

Do social housing tenants want solar panel upgrades?

There are an estimated 4.5 million units of social housing stock across the UK(2), of which currently just 233,061 of these have had solar panels installed to date, according to MCS data(3). But are residents in favour of renewable upgrades, and what impact could solar tiles have for these housing types?

To answer this, we have surveyed UK adults - in May 2024 - living in social housing(1) to determine attitudes towards renewable and eco-friendly energy sources like solar panels, heat pumps and EV charging facilities being installed on or in their homes.

We surveyed social housing residents…

We have found that the majority of social housing residents are in favour of renewable upgrades, with 3 in 5 (61%) interested in having solar panels installed. A further half of residents (54%) would like battery storage solutions to maximise the solar generated power too.

Charging points for electric vehicles (EVs) were least popular, with just 25% of social housing residents keen. But 40% - or 2 in 5 - social housing residents are interested in heat pumps being installed for their home too.

What could solar energy mean for those living in social housing?

According to MCS data(3),there are around 4.5 million units of social housing stock across the UK2, but just 233,061 of these social houses have had solar panels installed to date.. With our study showing that 61% of these property tenants are in favour of solar panel upgrades and embracing solar power as a renewable energy source, it equates to 2.75 million homes.

Our director of roof systems, Stuart Nicholson says: “Solar panels are likely to be most popular amongst residents because there is greater education and long-standing evidence of their benefits and energy generation efficiency. Some of these properties will be flats, but with 61% of social housing tenants in favour of solar, this could translate to 2 million social housing homes that want, and could benefit from, renewable upgrades.” This could be a significant proportion of the UK that would no longer have to face high electric bills and could better weather the cost of living crisis and fuel poverty issues with savings made from solar.

When should renewables be added to social housing properties?

Social housing is in the spotlight, with new regulations and standards set to significantly increase the accountability of landlords when it comes to the condition and performance of the properties they have responsibility for.

A renewables system can improve the efficiency of any house. In the specific context of social houses - as providers and councils are responsible for building upgrades - this efficiency could also relate to cost savings for them as many of these buildings will be receiving upgrades and scheduled roof maintenance.
These property upgrades could be made to social housing stock during these refurbishment projects; and doing so would help residents financially at the same time.

Stuart comments on the study: “Currently some local authorities and social housing provider teams unintentionally work in silo. Meaning that renewable teams that contact us for installations may not realise that refurbs have already taken place on that property. Or solar is being installed on roofs at the end of their life span, meaning the solar panels will need to be removed while the roof is retiled, which is adding unnecessary costs and is not good value for money for councils. Working in conjunction - with the overarching goal being to create more eco-friendly homes in the UK - will mean more social residents have access to renewables and budgets can be more efficiently utilised in the process.”

1 - Survey was conducted via OnePoll and included 300 social housing residents across the UK. Further data breakdowns are available on request.
2 - Social housing stock in the UK - source: -,providers%20own%201.6m%20homes.
3 - Social housing with solar - source: MSC database. Calculated on 08 May: 1,493,981 MCS certified solar installations to date of which 15.6% are in social rented property types = 233,061 -

Category: Solar