SMS launches ‘Solopower’ to deliver low-carbon social housing of the future
Solopower offers local housing authorities a fully financed solar generation and smart battery storage solution that addresses the dual challenge of carbon emissions and fuel poverty.
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 70% per home. The solution will thereby contribute to the enhancement of Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings and reduce tenant electricity bills by up to 28%.
With the residential sector one of the country’s largest greenhouse gas emitters, the financing and delivery of clean technology across the UK housing stock will not only be essential for meeting the Government’s Net Zero 2050 target, but also for increasing affordability of energy and alleviating fuel poverty. The fully financed solution will offer the social housing sector – which accounts for approximately 5 million UK homes – an opportunity to meet their carbon reduction and fuel poverty objectives. This includes the Government’s stated goal of upgrading as many existing homes as possible to an EPC Band C or above by 2035.
According to latest figures, 44 per cent of all social rented homes in England have an EPC Rating below C and approximately 360,000 of these homes are defined as fuel poor. With rises in unemployment and home energy consumption due to pandemic lockdown restrictions, rates of fuel poverty have worsened over winter, exposing a greater number of households to debt and health issues including an increased risk of the fuel poor in contracting the COVID-19 virus.
In addition to design, supply and install, SMS will remotely operate the battery systems using its FlexiGrid™ platform to maximise each home’s consumption of renewable power that is self-generated on site by solar panels. Solopower is additionally able to optimise grid import and export via smart meters to deliver flexible demand-side management that is essential for the wider energy network’s decarbonisation. The turnkey service is enabled through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between SMS and the landlord.
SMS is currently demonstrating its Solopower service on three social housing projects with local authorities in Scotland, which will see the company operate battery storage systems as a Virtual Power Plant (VPP) across 700 houses. SMS is also a lead partner on the UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) supported ReFLEX Orkney project. The Glasgow-headquartered business is providing its FlexiGrid™ aggregation software and asset financing to fully integrate zero-carbon electricity, transport, and heat networks on the islands.
“Increasing the affordability of clean power and technologies that can help improve the efficiency of homes is right at the heart of Net Zero 2050 and the Government’s plan to build back greener from COVID-19. With the launch of Solopower, which offers these benefits to social housing landlords and their residents at no upfront cost, we’re excited to extend our support in decarbonising the UK residential sector beyond our work on the domestic smart meter rollout. Whilst smart meters are laying the foundation for Britain’s energy revolution, SMS is ready to take this to the next level by rolling out battery and solar panels at scale across the UK housing stock. Solopower also provides a step in the right direction for electrification of home heating systems and meeting the Future Homes Standard.”
“By rolling Solopower out initially in partnership with local authorities and housing associations, who are right on the frontline of delivering the Government’s carbon reduction and fuel poverty targets, we can help ensure that the advantages of cleaner, lower-cost energy reach some of the most fuel-poor households first. Crucially, this is also a financed and fully managed solution, meaning landlords won’t have to worry about how they’ll fund or deliver the project, and residents won’t have to change their behaviour to save on energy and costs. SMS will do it all for them.”
Managing Director at SMS (Solopower)