The use of photovoltaic (PV) systems in domestic properties boomed after the introduction of the Feed In Tariff (FIT) in 2010. The deployment of solar technologies should see energy users’ fuel costs (and thus fuel poverty) declining, while property owners (including landlords) should benefit from the income generated by the FIT. The wider context of rising fuel poverty acts as a spur to implement select those energy efficiency measures with the greatest impact on consumption.
There has been a concerted drive within the social housing sector to improve the energy efficiency of stock through a variety of methods. The volume of properties offers significant scope for large scale installation of PV schemes but while measures such as insulation and new boilers have been popular, photovoltaic (PV) systems and other micro-generation options have proved less attractive, partly for cost reasons. They have the potential to deliver a greater impact on fuel poverty - however, to date only limited research has been carried out to assess the actual benefit in completed PV schemes, and whether the prospective opportunities are being fully realised.
Key research Question
Given the limited data on the impact of PV schemes, what savings if any are being achieved for tenants? Are there identifiable barriers to their optimum use – and if so how might they be mitigated?
Summary of activity
Providing quantitative data, statistical assessments of tenants’ bills before and after installation were made to calculate any change. In addition, and drawing on quantitative and qualitative data, the researchers completed a survey of 122 social housing tenants in the UK (using energy diaries, telephone interviews and questionnaires) and 15 social landlords, as well as a phase of action research undertaken with 7 social housing organisations (case studies).
The installation of PV systems in social housing did produce financial savings – on average £90 per household.