Home News Boost in UK solar needs 500 more electricians per year

Boost in UK solar needs 500 more electricians per year

Latest research into solar PV workforce requirements concludes that up to 500 newly qualified electricians per year might be needed to support Government plans for 70GW of solar capacity by 2035.

With the UK standing at a current solar capacity of around 15GW, the research was commissioned by The Electrotechnical Skills Partnership (TESP) and funded by NET to explore the electrotechnical industry’s capability to help fulfil this growth and the projected resource needed. Research experts Pye Tait carried out wide-ranging investigations, interviews with electrical contractors and in-depth analysis to arrive at the findings, which included looking at how long the average solar PV installation takes and the level of maintenance required.

It’s estimated that from now until 2035, a total workforce of between 6,110 and 6,890 full-time equivalent (FTE) qualified electricians will be required to support increased solar installations. This represents 4,800 to 5,600 more than the current FTE requirement for solar PV, or an extra 438 to 509 FTE electricians qualifying each year.

Although challenging, the electrotechnical industry has a good starting point from which to resource this need. The report estimates the UK’s current population of electricians and electrical fitters at 210,000 (excluding apprentices). Last year saw around 4,000 apprentices becoming qualified electricians, whilst apprentice start figures across the UK have been significantly higher than average in both of the last two years.

In its report, Pye Tait also acknowledged that ongoing improvements to solar PV technology could result in fewer PV units being needed, and therefore a reduction in the number of electricians required.

“Whilst the initial projections seem within our reach, it’s important to highlight the expanding need for electricians elsewhere across the industry to meet future needs,” said TESP Chair Ruth Devine. “The impact of growth areas such as smart-homes, electrification of heat, electric vehicle charging point and battery storage systems, to name just a few, means we need a constant and increasing supply of qualified and qualifying electricians.”

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