NuGen Properties

Communal solar panels make UK debut

Solar PV panels on the roof of Odet Court enable all residents to share in the cost savings

Australian solar energy specialist Allume has installed its SolShare technology at Odet Court, a block of 24 flats in Cardiff.

SolShare is said to be world’s only technology for connecting multiple residential units within a single building to a single rooftop solar photovoltaic system. Odet Court is the first UK installation.

It is reckoned that the solar panels have the potential to meet between 55% and 75% of each flat’s electricity demand, with the saving shared equally among the residents.

The project has been funded by the Welsh government in association with Wales & West Housing as part of the Optimised Retrofit Programme.

Until now, previous options involved installing individual solar systems for each apartment – a largely unworkable solution for developers due to cost, footprint and inefficient energy use. In the case of Odet Court, this would have meant installing 24 sets of panels, 24 inverters and 24 batteries.

Not only has SolShare significantly reduced the amount of hardware and footprint required, it has also reduced installation costs as compared to a typical solar system. SolShare is suitable for retrofit projects as well as new builds, as it does not require any changes to the existing supply and metering infrastructure, it is said.

“Wales is leading the way with the installation of this new technology,” said Jack Taylor, Allume Energy’s general manager for Europe. “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’s great to see governments and housing associations embracing innovative technologies which help tackle fuel poverty and climate change.”

Wales & West Housing director Joanna Davoile said: “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.”

A video of the project can be found here.

Allume Energy’s SolShare technology has recently undergone review by Ofgem and has been accepted as an ‘innovation measure of substantial uplift’ for the ECO4 funding initiative. SolShare 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.

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