The UK government has published its Future Homes and Buildings Standards consultation which could see solar become part of a “default package” for new homes in England.
Published on Wednesday (13 December) by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, emphasised the need for all homes to be “net zero ready” by 2025, and included a number of major requirement changes, such as heat pumps needing to be a standard within all new homes.
Solar photovoltaics (PV) are also set to play a major role in developing net zero homes, as part of revised specifications to deliver significant carbon savings, alongside affordable running costs.
The consultation offers two options for debate. The first option is the most cost-effective and “balances higher additional build costs against even lower consumer bills.” These “build costs” refer to the solar PV panels included in this option, which would cover a 40% equivalent of a homes ground floor area.
The estimated £6,200 average increase in home building costs however, would quickly be offset by reduced heating and hot water bills – which could be cut by £910-£2,120 a year according to government estimates.
The solar PV requirement would be removed for blocks of flats over 15 storeys, due to practical barriers.
Option two offers a “minimal approach” to achieve net zero carbon homes. This option does not include any requirement for solar PV installations, but through the use of other carbon saving measures – such as heat pumps – option two homes would still deliver at last 75% carbon savings compared to 2013 energy efficiency requirements.
“While a home built to Option 2 would be more expensive to run than Option 1, Option 2 still delivers expected bill savings for households moving from a typical home,” said the Consultation.
The trade association Solar Energy UK, welcomed the prospect of solar PV becoming part a “default package to meet forthcoming rules on the energy efficiency of homes and buildings in England.”
“In all, the plans are another welcome step towards a truly solar nation,” said Chris Hewett, chief executive at Solar Energy UK. “Although we are pleased that the Government is minded to make solar energy effectively mandatory on new non-domestic buildings, it is shocking that not doing so for homes is even on the table.
“Almost two decades after the Zero Carbon Homes policy was put forward and eight years after it was scrapped, the Government again runs the risk of a massive own goal.”
According to the consultation, the government is “committed to improving the energy efficiency and reducing the carbon emissions of new homes and non-domestic buildings”. It is worth noting that this consultation builds upon the 2021 Part L uplift.
Improving energy efficiency measures within homes could have a significant impact on the UK’s net zero goals. By reducing the amount of energy that is required to heat homes, particularly during the cold winter periods, this could reduce the strain on the grid due to lower demand.
The Future Homes Standard consultation could also introduce additional economic opportunities and benefits.
One of these includes unlocking investment in UK supply chains to boost growth. According to think tank E3G, the Future Homes Standard is central to realising the government’s ambitions for the UK to be one of the largest markets in Europe for heat pumps by the end of the decade and could unlock up to £1 billion investment in UK manufacturing by 2028.
Commenting on the results, Juliet Phillips, senior policy advisor at E3G said: “Ensuring that all new homes are built highly efficient and with clean heat is perhaps the most popular and common-sense of climate policies.
“We’re delighted that the government has finally confirmed that all new homes must be built to new zero standards from 2025. This is great news for home-buyers, who will save money on energy bills and avoid the need for costly retrofits in the future. It’s also great news for the UK’s clean tech industry, providing the long-term policy certainty needed to boost investment in skills and supply chains.”
Part of this feature was taken from our sister site Current±, the full piece can be found here.