Pobl and Sero launch the UK’s largest ‘transformative’ energy retrofit project

Pobl and Sero launch the UK’s largest ‘transformative’ energy retrofit project

Work is set to get underway on the UK’s largest ever local energy retrofit project of its kind1. 700 homes in a Swansea neighbourhood will benefit from the installation of state-of-the art renewable energy generation, energy storage and smart energy management technology.

The homes located in the Penderry area of Swansea, are owned and managed by Pobl, Wales’ largest provider of affordable housing. The holistic decarbonisation of a whole local community has not been undertaken at this scale before.

Pobl is delivering this transformative retrofit scheme in partnership with renewable energy technology and service supplier, Sero. It is anticipated that the innovative scheme, supported by £3.5m EU funds from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Welsh Government, will see the community generate as much as 60% of their total energy requirements, reducing bills as well as carbon emissions by as much 350 tonnes per year.

Sero will install individual or communal batteries for all homes that will harness power generated via linked solar panels, so that renewable energy is generated and can be stored for use by the community. Every home will also have new smart thermostats and intelligent heating controls, managed through Sero’s digital app, to deliver energy bill savings for residents while also balancing demand from the grid so that stored energy is used at peak times.

Sero MD, James Williams said: “The project will make a compelling case for turning existing housing stock into low carbon, generative homes, creating properly sustainable, connected communities, and cutting energy bills for residents in the process.

“There is, quite rightly, a growing requirement for new homes to be created carbon neutral, and that can’t come quickly enough. But, at the same time, as recognised by both the UK and Welsh Governments, there is huge potential for real environmental gains to be made by taking a strategic and optimised approach to retrofitting our existing homes — to reduce their current 20% contribution to UK carbon emissions. This project will be an early exemplar of how that potential can be realised.

“The project will also demonstrate new methods of socialisation of renewable energy benefits across the community, ensuring that all residents benefit from the distributed community generation.”

The Sero App

Solitaire Pritchard, Head of Regeneration, Pobl Homes & Communities, said: “Fuel poverty and climate change are two sides of the same crisis, with people in Wales still among the most fuel-poor in the UK. We are committed to identifying new ways of making homes more environmentally and financially sustainable — and that includes our existing homes as well as our new developments.

“This means we need to be innovative in our approach to finding a transformative solution and we are delighted to partner with Sero. The scheme will introduce technology into our homes that will change lives and sustain communities while also looking after the planet for future generations.”

The Welsh Minister for Housing and Local Government, Julie James said: “As one of the UKs largest energy retrofit projects, it shows a clear demonstration of the commitment from Pobl, local authorities and Wales’ social housing sector to reduce carbon emissions. This innovative project in Penderry will not only make a difference to its residents but is another step to having more low carbon homes in Wales.”

Western Power Distribution will be using Penderry as its national pilot to trial the positive effects on local grid infrastructure of renewable energy supplies and storage that are intelligently managed through trusted systems installed in people’s homes.

The energy retrofit is seen as a stepping-stone to a wider investment into the Penderry area that will have a positive impact across the entire community. The project will also address new forms of inequality related to solar orientation by ensuring that all residents benefit from the energy generated by the community.

Local resident Brian Mcallen (pictured left) participated in the pilot scheme and he welcomed news of the roll-out to the wider community, saying: “This scheme will have enormous benefits for the entire community, it allows people to really see how green energy works and how much money they can save to use elsewhere. It can be a real eye opener.

“I’ve always been interested in it and thought about how we can use solar power to make a difference in this community, but there has to be an incentive for people. You can explain the benefits as much as you want, it’s only when people can see it for themselves that it really hits home and they really understand it. This system is straightforward and easy to use. I can see people wanting to get involved in this, it’s a great idea that everybody will be benefiting from.”

Lessons learned from the Penderry scheme will inform the wider roll-out of renewable energy technology in thousands of homes throughout the Swansea Bay City Region as part of a City Deal Homes as Power Stations project, subject to its approval by the UK Government and Welsh Government. Energy efficiency technology will be retrofitted to 7,000 homes throughout the Swansea Bay City Region as part of the project, with a further 3,300 new build homes also set to benefit.

1. This is the largest retrofit project of its kind — relating to the number of homes within one local area being retrofitted to deliver joined renewable energy benefits across the entire community.

Header image shows solar PV installed on properties at The Mill housing development in Cardiff.

Earlier this month, the Welsh Government gave a further £10m to a major new programme that will help the social housing sector to set Wales on the path to decarbonise thousands of homes, boost the economy and open the door to a new Welsh industry. More on that announcement and the Optimised Retrofit Programme here:

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