Solar Sunlight Index

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    Where is the best place to switch to solar power?

    Solar Sunlight Index

    As fossil fuels become more and more expensive to use and their impact on the environment is more widely known, many people are looking to switch to alternative energy sources. Solar power is one of the most popular options, whether you want to power your home or provide electricity for your business through renewable means.

    Although solar power only accounts for a small percentage of the UK’s total electricity generation, it is increasing massively, with 6.6% of all energy coming from solar power in 2023 compared to just 1.2% in 2014. With better adoption and use of solar energy across the country, more and more people are looking to make the switch.

    But where are you most likely to see the biggest benefits of solar power? By looking at numerous data points, we have established which areas of the country are best suited to adopting solar power and have provided expert tips on how you can convert.

    Additionally, we have looked at some of the biggest cities from around the world to see where the best place globally for solar power is.

    Glossary of solar power terms

    Southend is the best UK city to adopt solar power, registering a ‘Solar Power Score’ of 9.58

    The top 5 solar power ready UK towns and cities

    1. Southend-on-Sea – Solar Power Score of 9.58/10:

    Southend is one of the newest cities in the UK, having earned its status in March 2022. It is also the country’s best major town or city for solar power. Having found fame as a seaside resort that Brits would visit during the summer holidays, it is perhaps unsurprising that Southend is both the warmest location on the list (11.2 ℃) and also has the most sunlight hours in a year (2,336).

    2. Plymouth – Solar Power Score of 8.91/10:

    Plymouth ranked second out of the UK’s major towns and cities in terms of solar power, as the south coast port city scored an impressive 8.91. Plymouth has average temperatures of almost 10.9 ℃, as well as 2,173 hours of sunshine throughout the year. These are both slightly lower than Southend but are still the second highest in the country.

    3. Swansea – Solar Power Score of 8.00/10:

    Swansea is the city where the people have the most interest in taking up solar power, as there were over 170 Google searches for ‘install solar panels’ per 100,000 people. As it is located in South Wales, Swansea gets a lot of sunlight throughout the year with 2,170 sunlight hours.

    However, Swansea loses points as its average temperature (10.1℃) is the lowest of any top-five-ranking city.

    4. London – Solar Power Score of 7.67/10:

    In the capital city of London, there have been an estimated 54,000 solar panel installations in homes in London as of 2023. There is a high average temperature for the country in London, with an average of 10.8 ℃ (the third highest of any cities we studied), and the city has over 2,100 annual sunlight hours.

    5. Birkenhead and Newport – Solar Power Score of 7.42/10:

    Across the River Mersey from Liverpool is the town of Birkenhead, and with a score of 7.42, this is the highest-ranked northern town or city for solar power adoption. Jointly, in fifth place is the Welsh city of Newport. They are evenly matched in all categories, with Newport slightly ahead in three of five and Birkenhead taking the other two.

    The top solar power ready UK towns and cities

    Los Angeles is the best major city in the world to adopt solar power, with a score of 9.08 out of 10

    The top 5 solar power capitals of the world

    1. Los Angeles (USA) – Solar Power Score of 9.08/10:

    Los Angeles is the global city which tops the ranking for solar power. The west coast city is known for its hot weather and sunny beaches, reflected in its potential for solar energy adoption. There are over 2,300 levels of direct normal irradiation (kWh/m2) in the city, the highest of any on our list.

    2. Dubai (UAE) – Solar Power Score of 8.83/10:

    The highest average temperature of any city on the list is Dubai (28.2 ℃). The oil-rich Emirate is, ironically, one of the best-suited places in the world to rely on solar power. Moreover, there are 3,885 hours of sunshine annually, the highest of the world’s major cities.

    3. Abu Dhabi (UAE) – Solar Power Score of 8.67/10:

    Another major city in the UAE ranks third, Abu Dhabi has very similar weather conditions to Dubai. On the other hand, it performs higher in terms of its photovoltaic power output (1,813 kWh/kWp) and its levels of direct normal irradiation (1,903.1 kWh/m2).

    4. Madrid (Spain) – Solar Power Score of 6.83/10:

    Madrid is the best European city to adopt solar power. However, it scored much lower than the three cities above. There is a high level of direct normal irradiation (2,026.9 kWh/m2) and 3,338 average sunlight hours. Madrid is let down by a small level of Google searches, just 1.55 per 100,000 people.

    5. Barcelona (Spain) – Solar Power Score of 6.75/10:

    Barcelona and Madrid are the two best-known Spanish cities, and they are known for their rivalry in many different fields, most notably sports. When it comes to their readiness to adopt solar power, Barcelona just comes up second with 6.75 compared to 6.83, and this is despite having an average temperature of 1 ℃ higher.

    The top solar power capitals of the world

    Photovoltaic Power Output

    As previously mentioned, PPO represents the amount of power generated per unit (a solar panel) over the long term and measures how much power a solar panel can generate. As a result, it is one of the most vital measures of the suitability of an area for transferring to solar power.

    Southend is the UK city with the highest level of PPO

    The UK towns and cities with the highest capacity for Photovoltaic Power Output

    1. Southend-on-Sea – PPO level of 1,075.3 kWh/kWp
    2. Plymouth – PPO level of 1072.9 kWh/kWp
    3. Cardiff – PPO level of 1042.6 kWh/kWp

    Southend tops the overall rankings and also has the highest level of PPO recorded in a major UK town or city, the levels here are almost 100 more than the average of 983 recorded across 25 locations. Plymouth again ranks second, but Cardiff is the surprising third highest as it only ranked 9th in the overall section. Despite having a rate of PPO over 30 less than Plymouth, the Welsh capital still manages the third highest levels in the UK.

    Abu Dhabi is the global city with the highest level of PPO

    The global cities with the highest capcity for Photovoltaic Power Output

    1. Abu Dhabi, PPO level of 1,813 kWh/kWp
    2. Dubai, PPO level of 1800.8 kWh/kWp
    3. Los Angeles, PPO level of 1798.4 kWh/kWp

    The Emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai battle for the top of the rankings, with the UAE’s capital coming out on top. Abu Dhabi has a PPO level of 1,813 which is 13 higher than its neighbour Dubai. The highest level outside of the UAE can be found in Los Angeles, the sun-kissed Californian city has a PPO level just under 1,800.

    Tips on how you can convert to solar power

    1. Research and expert advice

    Most solar panels are installed by specialist engineers. Therefore, if you plan to do it yourself, it is important that you do proper research into the job or consult an expert before undertaking the assignment.

    2. Find the best time to install solar panels

    Solar panels can be installed at any time of year. Still, you will generally collect the most solar energy during the summer when there is typically the highest level of sunlight.

    Therefore, you will want to have the panels installed and the system working properly before you reach the summer, so we would recommend starting to plan the job in the winter or early spring, as it can take months to get the paperwork and inspections completed before work can begin.

    3. Find out what you need to prep before the job

    You will need to check that your home is compatible with panels, that sufficient sunlight is hitting the roof and that the roof can fit them. After this, you must get permission and apply for a building permit from your local authority. This can be harder in areas of outstanding national beauty or national parks.

    Also, check if you’re eligible for financial help to help convert your home through the government green deal scheme. The job is ready to commence once you have the paperwork and permits.

    4. Gather the tools and equipment you’ll need

    You will need a full toolkit to complete the job with standard tools such as drills, screwdrivers, wrenches, saws and tape measures. On top of this, you will need electrical wiring tools and safety equipment such as a hard hat and electrically insulated safety clothing.

    The solar equipment you will need is, of course, the panels themselves, as well as the racking system that houses them. In addition, you will have all the electrical components, such as a battery pack, power inverter, heat sink, charge controller and all the wired components that connect the system.

    5. The job itself

    First, you will need to ensure that your roof is clean, tidy and ready for the installation. Next, install the racking system and seal any holes in the roof caused by this. You will then connect the panels to the racks using the metal clips provided; once installed, you will need to wire them together.

    After this, you must install the heat sink, charge controller, power inverter and battery bank. These components are vital for your system to function; without them, all energy that hits the solar panels will not be collected or stored.

    Once you’ve done this, install an energy meter or smart meter so that you can see how much power you are generating from your solar panels. After this is done, you can run an electrical test on the new system to ensure everything works correctly, and if it does, you can then take the system live.

    Methodology

    To collate our data, we used World Population Review to gather a list of the 25 biggest towns and cities in the UK (Sheffield was removed due to a lack of data) and information from World’s Best Cities to compile a list of the 25 best cities in the world (London was not included as it was already featured in the UK section).

    We sourced the average temperature and average annual sunlight hours for each destination from climatedata.org.

    We then used global solar atlas to source photovoltaic power output and direct normal irradiation values.

    We also used Google Keyword Planner to find the total number of Google searches for ‘install solar panels’ in each location for twelve months between April 2023 and March 2024 and compared this to the Google search reach to find the number of searches per 100,000 people.

    The scores for each factor were combined into a single ‘Solar Power Score’, which was recorded for each destination.

    All data is correct as of 8/5/2024.

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