Allume Energy, Wales & West Housing and the Welsh Government have announced the first installation of Allume’s solar technology, SolShare, which is designed to provide clean, affordable electricity to residential flats in Cardiff.
The project has connected 24 flats to lower cost solar energy at Odet Court, with the potential to meet between 55 to 75 per cent of each flat’s electricity demand. Based on the average usage of up to 2,400 kilowatt hours (kWh) for a one-bed flat, this could equate to an electricity bill saving of between £390 and £530 a year, based on current average electricity costs in the UK. The project has been funded by the Welsh Government in association with Wales & West Housing as part of the Optimised Retrofit Programme.
SolShare claims to be the world’s only technology for connecting multiple residential units within a single building to a single rooftop solar PV system. Until now, previous options involved installing individual solar systems into each unit – a largely unworkable solution for developers due to cost, footprint and inefficient energy utilisation. In the case of Odet Court, this would have meant installing 24 sets of panels, 24 inverters and 24 batteries.
Allume’s SolShare technology reportedly reduces the amount of hardware and footprint required, and has saved 25 per cent on solar equipment costs as compared to a typical solar system. Additionally, the technology is said to be suitable for retrofit projects as well as new builds, as it does not require any changes to the existing supply and metering infrastructure.
SolShare has recently undergone rigorous review by Ofgem and has been accepted as an ‘innovation measure of substantial uplift’ for the ECO4 funding initiative. It has also been specified in the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund’s Wave 1 and Wave 2.1 applications by a number of local authorities and housing associations in the UK.
“Wales is leading the way with the installation of this new technology,” commented Jack Taylor, general manager Europe, Allume Energy. “We hope it will serve as a template for governments and social housing providers in the UK to provide cost-effective energy efficiency upgrades to multi-unit residences. Simple and affordable solutions are available, so it is great to see governments and housing associations embracing innovative technologies which help tackle fuel poverty and climate change.”
“At a time when many people are facing difficult choices of whether to heat their homes or feed themselves and their families, it is only right that we explore ways to make our homes more energy efficient for our residents where possible,” said Joanna Davoile, executive director (assets) at Wales & West Housing.
“In recent years we have been trialling different methods of retrofitting older homes with energy-saving technologies but one of the main challenges has been how to fit PV panels and battery systems to our apartment homes so that everyone living in the schemes could equally benefit. The SolShare system seems to be a much fairer solution as the energy generated by the building can be shared equally to help our residents to keep their electricity costs down rather than going back to the grid. We are excited to see how the technology used in the SolShare system will work for our residents.”