press release
Published: 15 May 2023

Households investing in solar panels could reach break-even point sooner than expected 

New research suggests that many households could break even on their solar panels investments as early as 2027, as solar electricity becomes a more competitive electricity source, according to scientists at the University of Surrey.  

Surrey scientists have found that there has been a steady decline over the last decade in the cost outlay and return on investment of solar panel systems, regardless of the size of the system, which includes individual homeowners. In 2021 large-scale photovoltaic systems were cheaper than wholesale electricity with prices at £51 / MWH, versus £149 / MWH for smaller systems.  

Professor Ravi Silva, Director of the Advanced Technology Institute, University of Surrey said: 

“The findings of this study will aid the UK’s focus on reaching its net-zero targets by 2050 for many parties including homeowners, solar developers, the construction industry and Government offices. The promise of these investments breaking even or making electricity 40-50% cheaper by 2035 is something that can’t be ignored.” 

“With these findings the research encourages Government support for solar energy developers with preferential benefits to include low-interest rate loans on land or simpler suitable land purchases.” 

Despite an abundance of solar resources available, a figure from 2019 suggests solar electricity only accounts for 3% of the market globally due to high installation costs. 

Dr Filip Mandys, Research Institute for Labour and Social Affairs (RILSA) commented: 


“As the cost-of-living increases and the world focus is on climate change and decarbonisation, it is great news for many to hear a once costly investment will not only help deliver greener energy, but also at a lower cost.” 

“By offering more supportive initiatives, solar energy can grow more competitively and address the UK’s energy needs while providing a promising sustainable and affordable electricity solution.” 

The University of Surrey is a world-leading centre for excellence in sustainability – where our multi-disciplinary research connects society and technology to equip humanity with the tools to tackle climate change, clean our air, reduce the impacts of pollution on health and help us live better, more sustainable lives. The University is committed to improving its own resource efficiency on its estate and being a sector leader, aiming to be carbon neutral by 2030. A focus on research that makes a difference to the world has contributed to Surrey being ranked 55th in the world in the Times Higher Education (THE) University Impact Rankings 2022, which assesses more than 1,400 universities' performance against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 


The research paper will be published in the journal Patterns. 



Notes to Editors 

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