The recent government announcement to cut carbon emissions to 78% of 1990 levels before 2035 demonstrates there is clear ambition to address climate change across the UK. To achieve the 2050 Net Zero target, 5.5 million socially rented homes need to be decarbonised. These homes represent a diverse portfolio of property types and tenants with different needs and will therefore require a wide range of solutions.
Recent Energy Systems Catapult (ESC) research has highlighted that Registered Providers of social housing (RPs) are incorporating Net Zero targets into their plans (es.catapult.org.uk/reports/enabling-smart-local-energy-systems-social-housing-opportunities/). However, there is a lack of consistency on how this is defined, the routes to achieve it, and an overall lack of evidence of how different technical solutions impact other priorities, such as maintenance, comfort, and tenant needs.
ESC are supporting developers of Smart Local Energy Systems (es.catapult.org.uk/service-platforms/energy-revolution-integration-service/), many of which include social housing as potential customers for innovative energy services and products. Our goal is to use the evidence generated to inform Government on what is needed and facilitate the sharing of good practice and knowledge to build successful projects that not only support Net Zero, but also provide wider value to communities such as reducing fuel poverty.
The key challenges identified, based on extensive engagement with those working in and with the social housing sector are:
The proposed recommendations for three key stakeholder groups, National Government, Registered Providers of social housing, and technology developers based on our engagement include:
Registered Providers of Social Housing
Developers of energy services and products
One example of a developer proposing a potential solution that addresses a number of these key challenges is Solopower.
SMS plc has unveiled a new solution that aims to radically reduce carbon emissions of the UK’s social housing stock. Through Solopower, SMS will partner with local councils and housing associations to significantly upgrade the energy performance of social accommodation, delivering solar generation, battery storage, and smart meters to landlords and their residents at zero upfront cost.
In deploying these home energy technologies – which are intelligently controlled and optimised by SMS’s FlexiGrid™ aggregation software – Solopower can decarbonise housing electricity by approximately 90% per home. The solution will thereby contribute to the enhancement of Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings and reduce tenant electricity bills by up to 25%.
Dr Anna Stegman, Technical Manager, ERIS, Energy Systems Catapult