Family Housing Association turns to solar to tackle carbon footprint and fuel poverty

Family Housing Association has unveiled an exciting collaboration with ASW Property Services to install state-of-the-art solar panels on housing stock in Carmarthenshire as part of the Government-funded Optimised Retrofit Programme – a move that will reduce the carbon footprint of its social housing stock and help tackle fuel poverty.

The Optimised Retrofit Programme was introduced by Welsh Government to test a new approach to decarbonising Welsh homes, after identifying the urgent need for ‘immediate action’ to begin the process of decarbonising Wales’ existing 1.4m housing stock.

The programme will set the standard for retrofit schemes across Wales and link with existing programmes such as the Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS), which is being applied to around 300,000 social and fuel poor homes over the next 10 years.

During the last financial year, £19.5 million was committed to fund the programme, based on the recommendations of the Jofeh Report published in July 2019.

Family Housing Association was awarded funding from the programme, initially for housing in Tumble, Carmarthenshire, with the key aims of reducing the carbon footprint of its existing social housing stock and tackling fuel poverty for residents by making energy bills more manageable.

The properties, part of the Tir Becca estate in Tumble, will now benefit from state-of-the-art photovoltaic panels with additional battery storage. These ultra-efficient panels convert sunlight into electricity and the batteries store any overproduced electricity, so that it can be used later.

The Optimised Retrofit Programme is also key to sustaining green economic recovery within Wales, with the aim of creating jobs and providing training and skills to support the Welsh Government’s agenda to achieve decarbonisation across housing in Wales by 2050.

As such, Family Housing Association has collaborated with ASW Property Services, a property services specialist covering Wales, the Midlands and the South West of England, on the back of a long working relationship with the company.

ASW Property Services shares a close symbiotic relationship with their sub-contractor on the project, Connectus Electrical, a specialist electrical contractor based in South Wales.

Part of the Government funding was used by ASW Property Services and its contractor Connectus Electrical to improve, train and upskill their current workforce in readiness for the large-scale roll out of decarbonising homes in Wales.

Located in South Wales, ASW Property Services provides a national service using locally based people working in partnership with its clients delivering a wide range of improvement programmes.

It specialises in delivering works to the Welsh Housing Quality Standard to occupied properties using a trained and experienced multi-skilled workforce.

Connectus Electrical, which employs 28 fully qualified electricians, was founded in 2011 by Stephen John and Carl Brooks. They were later joined in the business by Steve Jones, and Anthony Thomas, managing director of ASW Property Services.

The company has invested heavily over the past 12 months in acquiring the skills and qualifications required to make it a market-leader in renewable energy projects.

Ceri Thomas, Planned Maintenance Manager at Family Housing Association, said:

“This is the first project completed by Family Housing through the Optimised Retrofit Programme which will benefit our tenants through reduced electricity bills, homes that are more comfortable to live in, and provide improved energy efficiency – all from a renewable energy source.”

Anthony Thomas, managing director of ASW Property Services, said:

“We are delighted to have worked with Family Housing Association and Connectus Electrical on this project as part of the Welsh Government’s Optimised Retrofit Programme. These solar panel installations will bring huge benefits to the residents of these properties, as well as tackling the vital issue of decarbonisation.

“ASW and our sister company Connectus Electrical are committed to working with renewable energy wherever possible, and as such, have a strong focus on training our staff in the installation and maintenance of the most cutting-edge green technologies. We ensure we are the first to know about any changes in legislation, and all the latest industry regulations, so that our clients benefit from our expertise at every stage.”