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Local renewable power generation study

Data driven solar installation plan to power Blackpool Council’s housing portfolio.

At a glance

Housing Advisers Programme case study

2021/22 cohort 

Executive summary

Blackpool Council’s Climate Emergency commits the Council to go net-zero carbon by 2030 and to work towards the borough being net zero in the same timescale. By managing and taking the lead for the reduction of emissions, Blackpool Council is at the at the heart of the sustainability challenge to deliver, demonstrate and encourage sustainable practices.

Challenge and context

Improving the efficiency of domestic properties in Blackpool and reducing their emissions is a challenge, in 2020 emissions from domestic units equated to 45.8 per cent of Blackpool’s total emissions.  78 per cent of Energy Performance Certificates issued in Blackpool grade properties lower than a C, whilst 82 per cent are graded below C for their Environmental Impact Rating. Linked to this, 16.3 per cent of households are in fuel poverty, above the national average, and most are heated by mains gas. 

The challenge of reducing carbon emissions from Blackpool homes is exacerbated due to the demographic makeup of residents within the Borough, with an ageing population, high levels of ill health, a lower life expectancy than the national average, low wage levels and high levels of welfare support for low-income households.

What we did

The Climate Emergency declaration by Blackpool Council pledges the Council's commitment to achieving net-zero status by 2030. To assess the feasibility of installing Solar PV systems in Blackpool Council's housing stock, encompassing both Social Housing Portfolio and Private Rented Sector, Parity Projects and Power Circle were commissioned. This study aims to determine the necessary capital investment, bringing the council closer to reducing its dependence on fossil fuels. Additionally, the commission also shed light on the retrofit measures needed to enhance energy efficiency in the council's property portfolio.

The difference we made

The study uncovered a compelling economic case for introducing solar panels and storage batteries in the housing stock, presenting a potential social PV capacity of 8.14MW. To address potential risks, a phased approach to installation is recommended, starting with an initial project involving 700 homes for phase one of the program. The estimated capital costs for Phase 1 amount to £6.04 million, with an additional investment of £2.45 million needed for battery storage replacement in year 16.

Tenants can expect to enjoy advantages from this initiative, including the opportunity to purchase renewable energy at rates below the current market prices, resulting in a minimum reduction of 11 per cent. The Council would not only recoup its investment but also generate a modest profit.

This study aligns with the Council's journey toward achieving net-zero status and has presented the local authority with renewable energy options that benefit both the Council as a housing landlord and its tenants.

What's next

Once staffing turnover issues have been resolved, the primary area of focus will involve engaging tenants to gauge their interest and willingness to participate. Collaborating with legal services, we will thoroughly examine the legal implications that the Council must consider before proceeding with phase one of the installations. Additionally, we will conduct condition surveys of properties to assess their suitability for the project. The major variable affecting delivery of the project is the cost of financing the project, with viability being affected by interest rates accessible to the Authority.

Lesson learned

Some delays occurred due to other work pressures from key stakeholders. To prevent delays, early engagement is key.


Scott Butterfield

Strategy, Policy and Research Manager

[email protected]