Enabling Smart Local Energy Systems: Social housing opportunities

Published: 30 March 2021

To achieve the 2050 Net Zero target, 5.5 million socially rented homes need to be decarbonised. These homes represent a diverse portfolio of property types, and tenants with different needs, therefore a range of solutions will be required.

There is no legislation currently requiring Registered Providers of social housing (RPs) to act on decarbonisation, however, the National Housing Federation¹ suggests that 74% of RPs are actively considering how to deliver Net Zero within their estates.

This research provides insight on the drivers and challenges for social housing providers and the potential opportunities for Smart Local Energy System (SLES) services to help them meet their targets. This work has been based on interviews with several RPs and project developers that are part of the Prospering from the Energy Revolution (PFER) programme and a literature review.

The following key challenges for decarbonising social housing have been identified during the work.

Key challenges

A workshop attended by 36 stakeholders and 15 semi-structured interviews identified the following challenges restricting or causing delays to SLES development:

  1. The lack of a consistent definition, or interpretation, of what ‘Net Zero’ means for RPs.
  2. Current Net Zero targets are generally based solely on EPC ratings which do not represent the benefits of low carbon technologies.
  3. The quality and availability of the data required to assess suitable decarbonisation steps are not available.
  4. Understanding the technical solutions available, and how these can best be combined, to achieve Net Zero isn’t clear.
  5. Lack of evidence of how technical solutions and innovative services may impact other priorities, such as maintenance, comfort, energy bills.
  6. The availability of financing and funding for RPs is limited, as they typically have budgets for ongoing maintenance which are unlikely to cover the cost of upgrades needed to reach Net Zero.
  7. Difficulty accessing skills and supply chain required to deliver this work at scale and to the quality required.