The cost of retrofitting the UK’s social housing stock is eye-watering, potentially over £100bn. Waiting for a magic government money tree to take away the problem is a risky approach. Thankfully, the housing sector now has a new way to take control of the issue.
It’s a solution developed by Emergent Energy through demonstrator schemes and design assessments with Nottingham City Homes, Gateshead Borough Council, Brighton and Hove City Council, Places for People, and others.
Our solution originated with the realisation that while housing providers foot the bill for installing heat pumps and solar PV in their stock, they currently earn just a fraction of the value those technologies create, if any value at all. Nor do residents see much benefit, particularly those without a roof that’s suitable for solar. The technologies’ value is mainly earned by national energy suppliers and network companies.
Consider, your residents typically use just 25% of the electricity generated by solar panels you install on their roofs, meaning 75% spills to the national grid. At the same time, the rise in heat pumps and electric vehicles is creating issues for the grid, pushing up connection and usage costs for you and your residents.
An opportunity is being missed, and housing providers are the ones paying for it.
Surely it makes sense to capture the wasted solar electricity and use it to power residents’ homes and heat pumps, and to do it at the scale of an estate where it can be done most efficiently? That would mean the homes on an estate, in aggregate, needing less electricity from the grid, which would ease the pressure the grid is facing.
Even better, it would mean housing providers and residents together giving less money to energy suppliers and network companies; long-term savings which could help fund the upfront costs of the solar and heat pump equipment, as well as making energy more affordable for residents.
Called technically a ‘microgrid’, it involves us connecting the solar and heat pumps to a ‘private’ electrical network (‘private wire’) and using this network to supply homes with electricity alongside heat. We may use batteries to better balance supply and demand on a network if it will reduce running costs.
We will set up your microgrid on new build and retrofit schemes where you are planning to install solar PV and heat pumps for a small additional cost.
Our core offer is then to pay you an ongoing income for the right to operate your microgrid, meaning we generate electricity and heat using your renewable technologies, and sell that electricity and heat to your residents for a fair price.
On the best schemes we aim to pay back the additional cost to build the microgrid in 5 years, and project over the microgrid’s lifetime you could earn a sum equivalent to a 25% saving off the upfront solar and heat pump installation costs.
Find out more at www.emergent.energy
Reg Platt, Founder CEO, Emergent Energy