New build solar opportunities limited by geographies

Rooftop solar installations on new build housing will be driven mostly by Scotland and London for the foreseeable future, with opportunities for PV limited to certain geographies.

That is the view of Stuart Elmes, chief executive at Viridian Solar, who blogs for Solar Power Portal this morning on the opportunities that lie for solar in the new build housing market.

Since the reduction of the feed-in tariff significantly dampening average solar deployment figures, installers still active in the UK market have looked to broaden their horizons and the new build housing market has been a particular area of interest.

In September installation business Solarcrown Commercial said that housebuilders were increasingly looking towards solar PV, leading to a series of discussions at this year’s Solar & Storage Live exhibition. The conclusion at the show was that while there was undoubted potential and some activity, housing developers were in need of re-education over solar and more pertinently battery storage solutions, with many uncertain of cost reductions or return on investment figures.

Writing today, Elmes, whose company Viridian Solar secured an exclusive supply agreement with Persimmon Homes earlier this month, stressed that the new build opportunity was currently looking far more favourable in areas such as Scotland and London, where it was being driven largely by building regulations and planning conditions.

Scotland, with its devolved building regulations, has enforced that new homes must be built to far more stringent carbon emissions standards.

House builders in Scotland have, as a result, concluded that renewable energy generation technologies must complement more traditional energy saving materials like insulation to meet these standards.

STA Scotland has since estimated that a significant majority – 70% – of housing developments in Scotland are progressing to tender with solar PV systems included in the designs.

Action is also being seen at local levels, particularly in London since the introduction of a Zero Carbon planning requirement for all developments approved by the Mayor’s Office.

This, Elmes writes, has resulted in a near postcode lottery to how much installation businesses can expect to pick up from new build developers.

“The region that your solar business operates in will determine to a great extent how much of an opportunity new build housing represents.

“The extent to which housing built by speculative housing developers represents an opportunity to a solar installation business currently depends on the geographical area in which it operates and the regulations and planning policies in force.

“For those lucky enough to be operating in areas such as Scotland and London, new regulations are bringing forward solar projects at all scales,” Elmes writes. 

Stuart Elmes' blog can be read in full here.