Image: Emotion Energy.

North Ayrshire Council has approved plans to investigate interest among its social housing tenants for the installation of solar PV on around 500 homes in an attempt to tackle fuel poverty and reduce carbon emissions in the region.

A report submitted to the local authority’s Cabinet on 17 January outlined the approach to the £2.3 million scheme, which would require a financial contribution from tenants on a voluntary basis to be combined with feed-in tariff payments so that the scheme can be cost neutral over 20 years.

This would be made through increased rent for those that agree to the installation of panels on their homes.

In return the tenant would be able to make a saving on their domestic electricity spend which over the 20 year period is projected to reach an average of £96 per annum.

This strategy has been selected in response to the diminished returns available from the FiT since it was cut. However, the funds that are available from the FiT will be leveraged in to help pay for the scheme with an expected income of £1.6m over the life of the project.

Councillor Jim Montgomerie, cabinet member for place, said: “Far too many people across North Ayrshire are spending too big a percentage of their income on their fuel bills. We want to make warmth affordable for our tenants and this scheme will help us achieve that.

“Even in the first year we anticipate that each tenant will save approximately £40 on their energy bills rising to £175 by year twenty.”

The cabinet has now agreed to proceed with tenant engagement at 1,100 potential properties to obtain feedback on the proposed scheme and if successful, a procurement exercise will follow to appoint an installation contractor.

The selected company would perform pre-installation suitability surveys and undertake the installation of the systems. Utilisation of an existing procurement framework is expected to simplify this process, and eligible framework agreements have already been identified by the council.