One thousand homes across Rhondda Cynon Taf Council in South Wales will benefit from the installation of solar PV in a bid to reduce the region’s fuel poverty numbers.

RCT Homes, which manages local authority homes on behalf of the Welsh council, has recently penned an agreement with Nationwide Solar to fit free solar arrays on 1,000 of its rented properties.

Russ Cowan, Managing Director of Nationwide Solar, explained why many local autorities and social housing providers are now viewing solar as a “win-win”. He said: “It means that there is no financial outlay for them, but their tenants benefit from savings on their energy bills, reducing the number in fuel poverty.”

However, some corners of the solar industry have been critical of the free solar model.  RCT Homes’ Deputy Chief Executive, Malcom Wilson, defended the installations stating: “When the feed-in tariff was reduced last year, solar PV became less attractive to some people.  But for us, it was never about the money, as we are more interested in attacking fuel poverty.  NWS has the expertise in fitting solar PV systems for tenants and we are delighted to be partnering with them on this project.”

Wilson continued: “The most important thing is that tenants will make savings of around £120 per year on their energy bills.  The fact that we have made a deal that works, despite all the constraints, shows that large-scale solar PV for social housing is definitely back on the agenda.”

The companies hope that the agreement will help lift a large proportion of RCT Homes’ tenants out of fuel poverty as well as substantially reducing the tenants’ carbon footprints.

Cowan remains upbeat about the future of social housing and solar, concluding: “The fact that we are investing in providing free solar PV for thousands of tenants’ homes across the country just goes to show that solar PV is still a very viable and worthwhile investment.  We have the expertise in partnering with local authorities, ALMOs and housing associations to ensure we deliver the right solution for tenants. Our installation teams have extensive experience in working in tenants’ homes to ensure a smooth and straightforward installation.”