The £5.2m project, which is backed by the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Demonstrator, will see SMS and delivery partners roll out fabric retrofits and green energy technologies across 100 homes.
Taking a whole-home energy efficiency approach, the project aims to demonstrate a viable route to net-zero carbon emissions for the UK social housing sector, whilst also reducing fuel poverty among residents.
A new smart home energy scheme that aims to radically reduce housing stock emissions is to receive £2.2m from the Government’s newly launched Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Demonstrator.
Following a successful bid to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), SMS will partner with Aberdeen City Council to deliver a programme of fabric upgrades and renewable energy technologies across 100 council homes as part of the £5.2m innovation project.
The project, which also includes delivery partners Robertson Group and IRT Surveys, will bring together a range of low-carbon generation and energy efficiency innovations that aim to demonstrate decarbonisation potential for the UK’s social housing stock, whilst also improving comfort and lowering energy costs for residents. The technologies planned for deployment include solar panels and heat pumps to remove the supply of carbon intensive fuels, installed alongside behind-the-meter battery storage systems.
SMS, who are financing the rollout of the assets at no upfront cost to the landlord or tenants, will intelligently operate the battery system through its cloud-based aggregation software, FlexiGrid™. Remotely optimising the use of a battery in this way removes the barrier of consumer behaviour change and maximises the consumption of renewable electricity generated on site by the solar panel. FlexiGrid™ will additionally optimise grid import and export via the home’s smart meter to deliver demand-side management that is essential for wider grid decarbonisation. This flexibility service is part of the company’s recently launched Solopower solution which offers a fully financed rollout of solar PV and battery storage to the social housing sector. The demo project with Aberdeen City Council will now trial the integration of electrified heat with this service in order to achieve even greater carbon reductions.
As part of the project’s fabric-first, whole-home approach, each property will be surveyed using thermal imaging technology which can identify where fabric improvements are required to reduce space heating demand. Through implementing these fabric upgrades in tandem with the installation of renewable energy assets, the project aims to showcase a route to achieving net-zero emissions through a financed and scalable business model.
The installation phase of the scheme – which is expected to create 39 local jobs – is slated for completion in December 2021, after which the energy performance of the 100 homes will be re-surveyed and monitored for a period of six months to demonstrate concept efficacy.
“The UK today faces the enormous challenge of developing intelligent, scalable models that can decarbonise the UK housing stock in ways that are both commercially viable and affordable for residents. This new project, which we are delighted to say has received Government support through the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Demonstrator, aims to achieve exactly that. Working alongside Aberdeen City Council and our delivery partners, SMS’s financing ability and innovative technology-led solution looks to show how to improve the pace of decarbonisation retrofits whilst simultaneously developing a funding and service business model that encourages collaborative public and private sector investment.
“By creating an expected 39 jobs locally through the initial trial phase of the scheme, our project additionally looks to demonstrate how – when delivered at scale – investment in green infrastructure can support the Government’s agenda to level up regional economic growth. Indeed, above all this project is about creating a more sustainable future: one that ensures affordable comfort in our homes, reduces fuel poverty, creates jobs, and ultimately protects our environment amidst climate change.”Head of New Energy Systems at SMS plc
Stewart Little, CEO of IRT Surveys Ltd, added: “We are delighted to see our DREam software and thermal imaging utilised in this project. Aberdeen City Council were an early adopter of our technology when we launched the business in 2002, and they have been instrumental in helping IRT develop services for the housing sector ever since. This project combines all our services into one, end-to-end, solution that will help decarbonise the City and help Aberdonians save money. We are excited to part of that journey”.
About the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Demonstrator
Following the launch of the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) Demonstrator in October 2020, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has announced £62 million in funding to 17 local authorities for 19 projects. The SHDF Demonstrator project is an initial investment to learn lessons and catalyse innovation in retrofitting for the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, for which the manifesto committed £3.8 billion of new funding. These projects will demonstrate innovative approaches to retrofitting social housing at scale, using a whole house approach. The projects will retrofit over 2,300 homes across the UK to bring them up to Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) band C or higher. Read more about the SHDF Demonstrator here.
About fuel poverty in Scotland
In December 2020, Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) called for greater investment in energy efficiency measures as it emerged more than 32,000 Scottish households have been plunged into extreme fuel poverty in the last year alone. Almost 1 in 4, some 613,000 households in Scotland, were in fuel poverty in 2019 - broadly the same as the previous year. But of those, some 311,000 households were living in extreme fuel poverty - defined as paying more than 20% of their income heating their homes - 32,000 more than in 2018. In Scotland, a household is considered “fuel poor” if required fuel costs are more than 10 per cent of net income after housing costs, and the money left over after housing, fuel and childcare costs is not enough for an acceptable standard of living. Scottish Government predictions estimate that fuel poverty figures could rise further due to Covid-19, to 29 per cent. Read more about fuel poverty across the UK here.
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