Twenty years and one million followers for the installer of the UK's first solar roof



Professor Roaf in front of the Eco House

The Heriot-Watt Low Carbon Building design specialist who installed the UK’s first ever Solar Roof, has celebrated twenty years for the roof and one million citizens living with solar roofs in the UK.

A lot of people told me it would never work here - but look at Britain now.
Professor Sue Roaf

Professor Sue Roaf designed and built the eco-house for herself in North Oxford in 1995, installing the first integrated solar roof despite facing opposition from the energy industry at the time and being told by the Government that it would never work “because there is not enough sunshine in Britain”. The solar panels are still generating electricity and hot water and generate enough heat and electricity to ensure that the six bedroom home has one of the lowest carbon footprints for any building in Britain.

That roof lit the spark that started the UK solar revolution and 20 years later over 1,000,000 people across the country are living in houses with solar panels on them and by the end of 2016 it is predicted that there will be 1 million solar roofs in Britain. There is now over 8GW of installed photovoltaics in the UK of which around 2.3GW is on the roofs of homes. To give an idea of the scale of this achievement, there is only 9.4GW of nuclear capacity in the whole of the UK.

The twentieth anniversary of the eco-house, one month after June’s G7 summit in Bavaria ended with leaders of the world's major industrial nations pledging to end reliance on fossil fuels by 2100, was celebrated by a party in its garden.

Now far easier and cheaper

Professor Roaf says that getting a solar roof has become not only more mainstream but an easier proposition. “The UK’s first domestic photovoltaic (PV) system required £28,000, new Local Planning and Building Regulations Guidance on PV roofs and partnership with Southern Electric to pioneer the first grid-connection agreement developed by an energy company in Britain.

“I’m delighted to say that today residents wanting to reap the benefits of solar power have a wide range of options at a fifth of the original costs. A lot of people told me it would never work here but look at Britain now: nearly a million solar roofs out of 25 million homes, an annual doubling of installed solar capacity and even the politicians now recognise that the best way to take people out of fuel poverty is to put the means of generating energy on their own roofs. The next target to aim for is 10 million solar homes by 2030.”