Solar panels to be installed across social housing in bid to cut tenants’ bills
Solar panels will be installed across 800,000 social housing properties in England and Wales over the next five years in a bid to cut the cost of utilities for tenants, the Government has announced.
The panels will be free to tenants and are expected to cut bills by hundreds of thousands of pounds, according to the firm Solarplicity.
The first people to benefit from the scheme include residents of a sheltered retirement home in Ealing, west London.
Speaking at the site, International Trade minister Greg Hands said: "This initial £160m capital expenditure programme will deliver massive benefits to some of the UK's poorest households.
"As well as creating 1,000 jobs and delivering cheaper energy bills for up to 800,000 homes, it shows yet another vote of confidence in the UK as a place to invest and do business."
The Dutch firm, Maas Capital is investing £160m in the project and the firm supplying the panels, Solarplicity, is expected to work with landlords across England and Wales to install them.
Tenants will not pay anything towards the installation of the panels and their energy bills will be reduced by an average of £240 per year according to the Department for International Trade.
The leader of Ealing Council, Justin Bell, welcomed the investment, but was sceptical about the “business case” for the scheme after the local authority had its own solar panel scheme curtailed by the Government.
"The business case didn't quite add-up when the government made changes to subsidies and feed-in tariffs for sustainable energy," he said.
"We're grateful that private investors are coming here and investing in Ealing and benefitting our residents but the government still needs to do more to move people to sustainable energy and solar power particularly."
The chief executive of Solarplicity, David Elbourne, said the price of solar panels had fallen enough so that government subsidies were no longer essential.
"In the past the feed-in tariff meant that people who could afford to have solar, benefitted from solar. But now people who can't afford to have solar [can]- we'll put it on the roof for free - and they will get a reduced energy bill."
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe