Wales & West Housing leads the way in installing energy-saving technology for residents living in Cardiff apartments
Residents at a Cardiff apartment block are hoping to halve their annual electricity bills following the installation of a state-of-the art solar energy system by Wales & West Housing.
Odet Court in Whitchurch, Cardiff is Wales’ first housing scheme to use an innovative solar energy system which is able to connect every apartment with their own rooftop solar PV panels. It means that every household can equally benefit from the more affordable, cleaner energy to help address fuel poverty and reduce carbon emissions.
Wales & West Housing has carried out the project in partnership with Allume Energy, developers of the SolShare technology with part funding from Welsh Government’s Optimised Retrofit Programme. The system was installed by Abergavenny-based renewable energy company Green Park Power.
The system is expected to generate around 50,000kWh per year, which is enough to run a washing machine 24 hours a day for two and a half years. This energy will be shared equally among the 23 apartments in the building. Communal batteries have also been installed to store up the excess energy for times when the residents need it most in order to make the most of the savings.
It means that each household could benefit from around 2,000kWh of self-generated energy per year, which could lead to savings of around 50% off their energy bills. At the current average electricity price of 34p/ kWh that would be equivalent to saving around £390 – £530 per household per year based on the average energy use for a one-bedroom apartment.
“At a time when many people are facing difficult choices of whether to heat their homes or feed themselves and their families, it is only right that we explore ways to make our homes more energy efficient for our residents where possible.”
Joanna Davoile, Executive Director (Assets) at Wales & West Housing
“In recent years we have worked with a number of organisations and Welsh Government to trial different methods of retrofitting older homes with energy-saving technologies including increased internal and external insulation, air and ground source heat pumps, and solar PV and battery systems.
“To date all the PV and battery storage systems we have fitted have been to individual houses. We have a number of apartment blocks like Odet Court and one of the main challenges up until now has been how we could fit PV panels and battery systems to these homes so that everyone living in the scheme could equally benefit.
“The SolShare system should be a much fairer solution for our residents as the energy generated from the building should be shared equally to help them to keep their electricity costs down rather than going back to the grid.”
“We are excited to see how the technology used in the SolShare system will work for our residents. Over a full year we hope they will see significant decreases in their electricity bills.”
“We are working with Allume Energy to find out whether the SolShare system could be trialled in some of our similar schemes in other parts of Wales and whether it could be developed and adapted for different types of apartment blocks.”
“This is an exciting first of its kind project for Wales and exactly the type of thinking we need to see within the housing sector.”
Climate Change Minister Julie James
“The decarbonisation of homes plays a big part in our journey towards a Net Zero Wales by 2050 and I look forward to following this innovative project as works progress.
“At a time when costs are rising, improving the energy efficiency of homes will not only help us to deal with the climate emergency but also help families through the cost of living crisis.
“It’s another important step in our journey towards a stronger, greener, fairer Wales.”
Jack Taylor, General Manager Europe, Allume Energy, commented: “Simple and affordable solutions are available, so it’s great to see governments and housing associations embracing innovative technologies which help tackle fuel poverty and climate change.”
“We hope this project will serve as a template for governments and social housing providers in the UK to provide cost-effective energy efficiency upgrades.”
Pensioners Peter and Carole Ballantyne are hoping to see a reduction in their electricity bills this year.
The couple, who are both in their 80s, have lived in their one-bedroom apartment at Odet Court, Cardiff, for 25 years. They currently pay around £90 per month for their energy, £50 of that is spent on electricity.
Mr Ballantyne said: “We use a lot of electricity. Our washing machine is on every day, and we use electricity for cooking and showering. My wife is housebound and enjoys watching TV, so we have the TV on for 10-12 hours most days.”
“When our fixed energy tariff ends in the summer, we are expecting our bills to go up but now we have the new solar energy we hope it will not be such a shock.”
WWH resident Peter Ballantyne
“The contractors who were working on the scheme were very good. They were very tidy and polite. Whenever they needed to turn the power off to do any work, they would knock the door and let us know in advance.
“When we had a problem with the scaffolding affecting our satellite dish on a Bank Holiday, Lee from Wales & West Housing was very good. He knew how important TV was to my wife so he brought us an indoor aerial until we could get it fixed. We can’t praise him enough.”