Kirklees use solar panels as part of their green ambition
Kirklees Council have a green ambition to cut carbon emissions by 30 per cent between 2005 and 2020. As part of that, Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing (KNH) has installed photovoltaic (PV) panels on several estates. This case study looks at a project installing 60 PV systems on Croftlands Estate in autumn 2009.
Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing (KNH) is an arm's length management organisation (ALMO) responsible for managing Kirklees Council's housing stock.
KNH chose poly-crystalline panels because - although they are not as efficient as mono-crystalline - they are less expensive and were suitable for the limited roof spaces on Croftlands Estate.
In 2008, Kirklees Council agreed a capital investment of £13.9 million for renewable energy projects on housing stock managed by KNH. This came from housing revenue account (HRA) reserves.
The £13.9 million is a total asset cost. The council aims to attract 40 per cent external funding and so reduce its capital outlay. At October 2010, the council has installed £2.8 million of assets and achieved 54 per cent of external funding.
The project on Croftlands Estate cost £399,000 (including VAT). It was half funded by the capital investment scheme and half by the Low Carbon Buildings programme.
The capital investment fund for renewable energy is part of Kirklees' Green Ambition to cut carbon emissions by 30 per cent between 2005 and 2020.
KNH are keen to tackle fuel poverty, so they targeted one-bedroom flats and bungalows - the homes of elderly couples who do not go out much. This means that electricity generated by the PV panels is used by tenants and reduces their bills rather than being fed back into the national grid.
Many roofs at Croftslands are east or west facing. To be 100 per cent effective, PV panels should be installed on south-facing roofs. On east- and west-facing roofs, PV panels are usually only 80 per cent effective.
KNH did some calculations on orientation and overshadowing. Because the roofs were quite shallow, the panels are up to 90 per cent effective on east- and west-facing roofs.
However, KNH couldn't install panels on a couple of properties overshadowed by large trees. This was disappointing for the tenants concerned.
Key lessons for other councils
Get in touch with tenants well in advance to let them know when the installation is going to take place. This allows you to make arrangements for special cases or if tenants are going to be away. KNH found that in circumstances where tenants were very sick they needed to provide respite care while they carried out the installation work.
Work out a schedule so that you install the panels on one day and do the internal work the next. This keeps tenants happy because it minimises any disruption.
Do not leave scaffolding up for any length of time as school children may climb up it.
Councillor Andrew Cooper adds:
"Don't be lured into doing so-called ‘free' solar PV schemes. Look at managing and going out to tender yourself for these installations. If you have ‘free' solar panels on the roof you're not going to get the revenue from the feed-in tariff. If councils go out to tender and put them in themselves, then they can realise a big revenue benefit. And it can be at no net cost to them as a council, because the payments on the capital borrowing will be met by the feed-in tariff."
On the Croftlands Estate any unused electricity goes back into the national grid. In future on similar projects, KNL will benefit financially from the feed-in tariff.
Tenants are saving from £100 to £150 a year on electricity bills. Mrs Jones from number 28 pays a standing order of £30 to her electricity bill each month. She says:
"Since the panels were fitted I have been in credit to the tune of £68. This has never happened before. Very pleased!"
The tenants are proud of the PV panels, which look smart and have raised the collective self-esteem of the estate. Installing the panels has also prompted tenants to think more about energy efficiency and green issues. Mr and Mrs Noakes of number 30 say:
"Very satisfied. The panels have reduced our consumption and made us more energy aware."
Chris Moorhouse, Energy Team Manager
Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing
St Andrews Road
Huddersfield HD1 6RZ
Telephone: 01484 416732
1 May 2012