Twelve social landlords look to use Green Deal to install solar panels on their stock of homes

A group of housing associations could use the Green Deal to install tens of thousands of solar panels on affordable accommodation across Liverpool, after the government announced last week that the scheme could be used to fund the technology.

Twelve social landlords in Liverpool, along with Liverpool council, are looking to retrofit their stock of 100,000 homes and say up to two thirds could be suitable for PV panels.

Project Viridis aims to insulate the properties in order to help meet an 80% greenhouse gas reduction target by 2050 and reduce fuel poverty.

Dave Mobbs, project leader for the initiative, said that phase one will be to install 2,000-4,000 PV panels across the stock before the reduction of solar feed-in tariff subsidies in March 2012.

Even with the reduced rate of subsidies, social landlords could use up the pot

Michael Woodhead, E.ON

The second phase is to expand renewable power and insulation across the affordable stock using the government subsidies such as the Green Deal, the renewable heat incentive (RHI) for technologies such as biomass boilers, and the reduced feed-in tariff.

“We’ll take on board the renewable heat incentive, and Green Deal. We would do as many as is practical,” he said, adding that the aim was to give as much work to local firms as possible.

Last Thursday the government announced that the Green Deal, which would allow homeowners to borrow up to £10,000 to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, could cover solar panels and other renewable technologies if installation pays back the cost over time.

The announcement comes amid continued uncertainty over the takeup of the government’s green subsidies. In March it announced an emergency review that cut the feed-in tariff by 40-70% for solar arrays above 50kW after fears that the £360m pot of money set aside for the tariffs would be used up by large fields of panels.

Michael Woodhead, head of sustainability at E.on, said that he feared the subsidy could be cut again if social landlords fitted their stock with solar panels.

“All the RSL [registered social landlords] are looking into this, and if everybody floods in the market the money could dry up. Even with the reduced rate of subsidies, RSLs could use up the pot,” he warned.

Green Deal consumer protection measures

Alongside the Green Deal announcement was the publication of a series of measures to protect homeowners. Homeowners who fail to notify prospective buyers of Green Deal improvements could be liable to pay back any Green Deal loans taken out. As previously announced, all firms will have to be accredited as a Green Deal installer to carry out work. Existing trade schemes will be accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service to have met the Green Deal standard, which is being developed by the British Standards Institute, in consultation with the industry. The Green Deal provider will also be responsible for ensuring the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is updated by an accredited assessor to reflect the new improvements installed and to disclose details of the Green Deal plan.