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Solar Cities

Solar power has experienced rapid growth over the last few years, as the technology becomes more advanced and affordable, with almost a million solar panel installations taking place in the last decade.

The panels themselves are made from photovoltaic (PV) cells, which energise when hit by photons from the sun’s rays and create an electric field and a direct current of energy, which is then passed through an inverter to become an alternating current, which can then either be funneled back to the National Grid or used by your home.

However, for solar power to be effective, the one thing you need is sunshine, which isn’t something that the UK is always blessed with.

And as we all know, the weather can vary a lot depending on where in the country you live, even for such a relatively small island!

So, where are the places where going solar could save you the most money?

The towns and cities with the biggest potential savings

So, which parts of the UK enjoy the most sunshine, and subsequently, could generate the most solar energy?

It’s perhaps no surprise that the top three places were all coastal towns and cities perched on the South Coast, with Brighton & Hove just beating Plymouth to the top spot.

As one of the sunniest cities in the UK, Brighton was the city that produced the highest solar energy of any of the cities that we looked at, with 1,097 kWh over the course of a year, which amounts to annual savings of £195.27.

Beyond the top six places, all situated in the sunny south, Cardiff is in seventh seeing potential savings of £172.04 per year.

While the North isn’t exactly known for its sunshine, the savings in Liverpool are slightly inflated due to electricity prices on Merseyside being among the highest in the country, at 18.6p per kWh.

The towns and cities with the smallest potential savings

While installing solar panels can help to save money wherever you are, there are certainly some parts of the country where the benefit isn’t as great.

Situated up in Scotland, it’s little surprise to see Glasgow as the city which would benefit the least from solar power, with potential savings of £137.71 a year, which is £57.56 less than down in Brighton.

This was followed by two cities in the North of England, Manchester (£141.73) and Bradford (£144.82), both in the North of England.

One Scottish city did enjoy decent potential savings, and that was Aberdeen (£149.52) although unfortunately, that was more due to higher electricity prices than an abundance of sunshine.

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To estimate the amount saved in the 30 biggest towns and cities in the UK, we multiplied the annual kWh of electricity produced by the average unit rate of electricity.

The electricity produced was sourced using the European Commission's PV Performance Tool, using the centre point of each town or city, based on a single building-integrated crystalline silicone system mounted at a 35° angle.

Average variable unit prices were sourced from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s average unit costs and fixed costs for electricity for UK regions for standard electricity in 2020.