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Which UK cities give you the most energy from a solar panel?

Solar power’s a big thing these days. It’s not just mad scientists and eco-warriors powering their homes with solar radiation - with the price of panels coming down year after year, accessing the power of the galaxy’s biggest star is easier than ever.

But did you know that where you are in the country affects exactly how much electricity you can source from the sun and how much money you could save? With daylight and weather varying so much, just exactly where your home is in the British Isles affects what you’ll get from the Sun.

Who are the big winners and losers in this battle for the sun? We’ve crunched some numbers to find out.


The Best

Here are the 15 cities where having a solar panel will pay out the most, followed by the 15 worst places to panel up.

Ranking

City

Country

Annual kWh generated per panel

Annual Saving per panel

Time to pay off installation cost

1

Brighton and Hove

England

1230

£207.13

7 years 6 months

2

Chichester

England

1200

£202.08

7 years 8 months

3

Plymouth

England

1190

£200.40

7 years 9 months

4

Swansea

Wales

1150

£193.66

8 years

4

Truro

England

1150

£193.66

8 years

6

Portsmouth

England

1140

£191.98

8 years 1 month

7

Canterbury

England

1090

£183.56

8 years 6 months

7

St Davids

Wales

1090

£183.56

8 years 6 months

9

Kingston upon Hull

England

1070

£180.19

8 years 8 months

9

City of London

England

1070

£180.19

8 years 8 months

11

Liverpool

England

1050

£176.82

8 years 10 months

12

Cardiff

Wales

1030

£173.45

9 years 10 months

12

Exeter

England

1030

£173.45

9 years

14

Birmingham

England

1020

£171.77

9 years 1 month

14

Peterborough

England

1020

£171.77

9 years 1 month

Sure, you’d expect Brighton to be up at the top being such a coastal attraction, but we were surprised at how well Hull and Liverpool rated on the index - goes to show it’s not just Southerners who need to start thinking sunpower!

Birmingham and Peterborough aren’t exactly known for their sun either, but are sufficiently far south to get a fair whack of sun over the course of the year.

Interestingly, it’s not a simple case of the further south you go, the sunnier it is. Whilst this is certainly true as a general trend (sorry, Stirling), there are anomalies too. Liverpool boasts more solar radiation than some cities several hundred miles south, including Cardiff and Exeter!


The Worst

Ranking

City

Country

Annual kWh generated per panel

Annual Saving 1 per panel

Years to pay off installation

51

Bradford

England

933

£157.12

10 years

52

Durham

England

929

£156.44

10 years

53

Salford

England

928

£156.28

10 years

54

Preston

England

925

£155.77

10 years 1 month

55

Manchester

England

922

£155.26

10 years 1 month

56

Lisburn

Northern Ireland

912

£153.58

10 years 3 months

57

Newry

Northern Ireland

909

£153.08

10 years 3 months

58

Carlisle

England

884

£148.87

10 years 7 months

58

Aberdeen

Scotland

884

£148.87

10 years 7 months

60

Armagh

Northern Ireland

871

£146.68

10 years 9 months

61

Glasgow

Scotland

862

£145.16

10 years 10 months

62

Stirling

Scotland

858

£144.49

10 years 11 months

63

Bangor

Wales

847

£142.63

11 years 1 month

63

Derry

Northern Ireland

847

£142.63

11 years 1 month

65

Inverness

Scotland

846

£142.47

11 years 1 month

Spare a thought for Inverness — where the poor souls can only generate 68% of the solar energy in Brighton across a year. That’s a difference of £1,177.52 over the course of 20 years, purely based on geography! Of course, that doesn’t mean these guys shouldn’t get one installed — there’s still upwards of £140 of energy to be saved annually.


What a cloudy day costs

The tricky thing about solar energy is how variable it is. A sunny day or cloudy day can produce seriously different amounts of energy for your panel — and if sunny or cloudy spells persist, the difference can really add up.

For instance, we found that in London, from May to August, the potential varies hugely:

  • An entirely cloudless summer (May - August) would generate £161.70 in energy per panel.
  • A summer without a minute of sunshine would get you just £54.11.
  • Every summer day without sun costs you 46p worth of electricity.

But it’s a common misconception that cloudy weather means your solar panel will be useless — as long as there’s daylight, your panel will be generating energy, though at a lower rate than if it was seriously sunny.


Full Data


Notes

Data based on:

  • Average cost of solar panel installation (£1500 for 1PV) from Green Builder
  • UK wide energy average cost (£0.1684 / KWh) and usage (3100 KWh per year) from Smarter Business
  • Solar power generated by location from Photovoltaic Geographical Information System
    • 1 building-integrated, crystalline sillicone panel
    • Mounted at a 35 degree angle
    • Using PVGIS-CMSAF data
  • Sunshine hours based on Met Office data 1981 - 2010
  • ​Many people choose to install a solar battery as well as a panel, to store solar energy for use at any time of the day. We have not included the cost of this in our calculations.Energy saving calculations based on current UK average energy price of £0.1684 / KWh.

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