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FS30 - Retrofitting Solar Photovoltaic Panels in Existing Housing Stock

Written by: CIC Start Online

"Retrofitting Solar Photovoltaic Panels in Existing Housing Stock" by Edinburgh Napier University and Easthall Park Housing Co-operative Ltd


The Scottish Energy Centre as part of the Institute for Sustainable Construction & Edinburgh Napier University was selected by Easthall Park Housing Co-operative (EHPH) on behalf of CIC Start Online to examine the potential for using solar photovolataic (PV) technology in the Greater Easterhouse Area of Glasgow.

It is of great concern to EHPH to address the issues around energy demand versus supply amongst their ever growing housing stock. Issues related to energy conservation have been slowly addressed by complying with the Scottish Housing Quality Standards and by launching energy saving schemes throughout some selected properties. The vast majority of the housing stock in the Greater Easterhouse area has undergone refurbishments in the mid 1990’s or are newly built houses/ apartments that comply with current building regulations. Although this is an ongoing issue, of reducing the energy conservation and demand of the properties through energy efficiency, it is a topic which concerns not only the Housing Co-operative, but also the tenants.

As energy conservation is tackled, there is also the concern of addressing appropriate methods of energy supply to the housing stock. Scotland has set a number of targets to reduce carbon emissions and buildings account for nearly half of the countries CO2 emissions. Following some of the Scottish Governments targets, The Climate Change (Scotland) Act has put in place a legislative framework to pursue a reduction in emissions associated with the unsustainable use of fossil fuels and placed duties on public bodies. The Scottish Government commitment to increase the amount of electricity and heat generated from renewable sources is a vital part of the response to climate change. The headline targets to generate the equivalent of 100% of Scotland's gross annual electricity consumption and the equivalent of 11% of Scotland's heat demand met from renewable sources by 2020 have spatial planning implications that need to be addressed in development plans.

It is for this reason that EHPH is concerned for the future regarding the source and use of energy. Dependency on global energy supply is a risk; not only on the origin of this energy but also the availability of it in the not so distant future. Finite energy sources will overshadow the housing sector sooner rather than later and it is a wise decision to project towards a non dependant energy supply.

EHPH wished to undertake a feasibility study to examine the possibility of installing solar PVs to approximately 100 homes in the Greater Easterhouse area of Glasgow. Benefits include reducing electricity costs for the tenants; thus tackling fuel poverty, whilst at the same time reducing the CO2 emissions. It is proposed that this study will be made available to other social rented landlords within Scotland and this would assist them to develop PV within their own rented stock with as many as 5,000 tenants benefiting.

The study considered:

  • Location and type(s) of PV panels to maximise solar gain, including output and returns
  • Links with additional energy saving measures to minimise energy usage whilst maximising carbon reduction
  • Benefits of feed in tariff in relation to provision of solar PVs

The aim of the feasibility study was to highlight technical and economic viability of the use of solar photovoltaic panels for the generation of electricity in the selected apartments. It also touched on depleting dwelling fuel poverty by introducing effective, cheap and accessible means of supplying electrical energy to the homes. Another key aim was to indicate the carbon reduction versus the investment over a longer period of time.

The following objectives were identified for the feasibility study:
a) Understand and review how solar PV panels operate and how to obtain optimum efficiency.
b) Discuss and evaluate the technical constrains related to what type of PV panel is optimum for the selected buildings and how that influences efficiencies and production.
c) Identify and explain the links between technical and energy suppliers sizing constrains
d) Explore the role of the Feed in Tariff and sell back to grid
e) Understand the issues surrounding the economical payback of all equipment coupled with the sizing of equipment
f) Articulate the role of the location and orientation of the properties.
g) Use case study examples to demonstrate “best practice” examples of renewable energy usage and application

Key words: post-1919 buildings, domestic buildings, renewable energy, photovoltaic panels, cost calculator


Julio Bros Williamson, Edinburgh Napier University

in collaboration with

Dr Celine Garnier, Edinburgh Napier University

Nicolas Henry, Edinburgh Napier University

For Lanarkshire Housing Association

The outputs of this study will be disseminated in due course.


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