Resurgent in housebuilding risks being a ‘missed opportunity’ for solar

Published:  15 May, 2014

Trina Solar has called on the construction industry to give the development of solar energy more attention as the latest housebuilding figures show a 28% rise in registrations in 2013 compared to 2012.

133,670 new properties were registered with the National House-Building Council by the end of last year, but too many construction companies treat installing solar panels as a box-ticking operation, missing out on the energy saving benefits that are possible.

Richard Rushin, UK manager for Trina Solar and board member of the Solar Trade Association, said: “Looking around many new housing developments, I can’t help notice that houses only have one panel up, often facing in the least productive direction.

“Government targets require all newbuild housing to be zero carbon by 2016. While this is an ambitious deadline, many construction companies are missing a trick and should use solar installations as a key part of meeting this target. Whether you are trying to satisfy planning conditions, achieve a Code for Sustainable level, BREEAM standard or any other energy or CO2 target, solar PV has become one of the easiest and cheapest ways to achieve compliance.”

He continued: “Solar has a powerful contribution to make to the energy mix in the UK and has a unique ability to give residential energy users greater control over their bills and create their own energy supply. With the pressure growing for significant housebuilding across the UK in the coming years, the parallel development of residential solar energy is an essential part of the UK’s energy infrastructure.

“Newbuild properties are exceptional at incorporating energy efficiency into their designs and construction. Securing renewable energy sources is just as important – a different side of the same coin. I totally understand the need for housebuilders to ‘value engineer’ their budgets and keep their offerings competitive, but many are using single panel solar PV installations as a ‘tick in the box’ to achieve a given build code. Many of these systems will have little benefit to the homeowner and consequently there is an increasing reputational risk to the PV industry.”

Mr Rushin concluded: “We all know properly designed and installed solar PV systems on residential roofs work brilliantly, so I would call on the government to make the necessary regulatory changes to make a fully operational solar PV system a standard measure on as many newbuild properties as possible in the same way that thermal efficiency is now an essential part of the design and final build.”

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