Together Energy, part of the Together Housing Group, has launched a dedicated website to share its journey to net zero carbon with like-minded organisations.
Together Energy uses its investment in renewable energy and efficiency to make homes more affordable for tenants and better for the environment. Where possible it seeks to generate a return on investment and it is hoped that the new site will inspire good practice among other social housing providers, energy tech companies, energy suppliers and investment interests that share the same goal.
Patrick Berry, Director of Energy Services at Together Energy, said: “We are living in unprecedented times. The world is awakening to the threat that climate change is having on the Earth’s eco-systems and on the way of life many of us have come to take for granted.
“The UK is the first major developed economy to commit in law to achieving net zero carbon by 2050. This will have far reaching consequences. To achieve it will require a deep response across our economy, our homes, our transport systems and expectations of how we live our lives.
“One of the more testing challenges is how to make the transition to renewable heat and power in our homes and to improve their overall level of energy efficiency. To do this will require both a broad acceptance of the renewable technologies that will enable a mass market appeal and sufficient reductions in the costs that will make large scale commercial investment a reality.”
With around four million social housing properties in the UK largely occupied by tenants on low incomes that are most vulnerable to energy costs, Patrick says the social housing sector has a major role to play.
Patrick adds, “Social housing has the financial clout and the assets to be market makers; bringing the technology into play, developing sustainable investment models and making a contribution to growth in low carbon economy jobs and businesses. In doing so there is a need to think innovatively about how we upgrade our assets, its impact on how we manage them over the long-term and especially the impact on our tenants. The progress to becoming net zero carbon can act as a major catalyst to this end.”
So far, Together Energy has run a series of pilot projects in the social housing sector as it works towards the net zero carbon target. One project in Lancashire, funded by Together Housing Group and the European Regional Development Fund, saw 250 homes fitted with solar panels and batteries. On another pilot project, Together Energy worked in partnership with Kensa Contracting Ltd to replace storage heaters with ground source heat pumps in 1,000 flats at 12 locations across South and West Yorkshire.
Together Energy recognises that with these projects it has only taken the first step. The projects they have developed around renewable heat, solutions for new build properties and solar PV and battery systems have been designed to provide proof of concept so that much larger investments can be made across its stock.
Underpinning this approach is the aim to use energy assets as investments that generate revenue in the emerging markets around demand side response, but also power purchase agreements that enable cheaper energy bills for tenants.
Patrick added: “This approach is a step towards change in traditional thinking. The only certainty we have at this time is that the final outcomes are likely to be different than those we might anticipate now.”