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Network’s Generating Renewable Energy

18 June 2021

By Patrick Flynn, Head of Compliance and M&E

As part of Network’s new Sustainability Strategy which sets out our approach to a more sustainable future, we are trying to better understand our homes and the renewable technology installed throughout our portfolio. One area where we’ve successfully utilised renewable energy sources for some time is Solar Photovoltaics (PV). These are electricity panels that capture the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity that you can use in your home.

Patrick Flynn

By installing Solar Panels in our homes, we can generate renewable electricity and these systems help supply the communal areas of our blocks and individual houses in many schemes such as Rectory Park with renewable electricity.

By Patrick Flynn, Head of Compliance and M&E

How did it start?

Although we’ve been installing Solar PV systems for several years in our developments it’s only until recently, we understood how much they are contributing to our sustainability agenda and realise we haven’t been utilising any excess electricity generated. 

The Compliance and M&E Team took on the challenge of finding out where our solar PV units were and what they were contributing. We’ve worked with a company called Ecolution over the past two years to survey our portfolio and install PV generation meters at 26 blocks so that we could remotely read the amount of generation in total and by block. The initial 26 blocks have been up and running for approximately one year and we’re now able to demonstrate the impact we’re making on renewable energy generation for this small section of our housing portfolio.

Taking everything into consideration we have approximately another 40 blocks and 180 houses which are not yet connected to the remote monitoring portfolio so there is scope to immediately increase the amount of renewable energy production we can monitor and report on. We’ve also included the necessary metering in our new build specification so that properties can be added on the remote monitoring portfolio at handover.  

Plans Ahead

For the next financial year (2021/22) we’re looking to install meters across the remaining blocks with Solar PV and this is expected to start during the summer. We’ve also had approval from our Executive Leadership Team to enter into our first-ever export tariff agreement. This agreement allows Network to sell excess electricity generated through our Solar PV system back to the grid at an agreed rate. The current tariff for exporting electricity is known as the SEG (Smart Export Guarantee) tariff and it will be managed by Ecolution on our behalf. They’ve approached several export tariff providers and negotiated the best rate to sell our excess electricity.

This agreement is being finalised and is expected to be in place by the end of June. The income generated by this agreement will be paid directly to Network Homes and is an income that can be guaranteed for the contract term of five years.

As more of our solar PV installations are added onto Ecolution’s monitoring portal they can be added to SEG tariff agreement periodically which will increase the amount of electricity we are able to export to the grid for usage elsewhere.  

Solar PV Benefits

Solar energy is obtained from the sun’s radiation and it can be converted to electricity or heat. It’s freely available and thanks to advances in technology, we can now harness even more of the solar energy that is continuously available to us. By installing solar panels, we can generate your own renewable electricity within our developments and schemes.

Some of the benefits include:

  • Reduced energy bills
  • Reduction in carbon footprint
  • Solar energy is applicable anywhere there is sunlight
  • Renewable energy source
  • Operating and maintenance costs for PV panels are low

If you haven’t had the chance, I recommend reading our Sustainability Strategy below! It describes how Network will try to address the issues of sustainability and integrate them into our day-to-day activities and long-term planning.

Read the full strategy here