The United Kingdom understands the benefits solar power can have for its lower-income residents in terms of energy savings. That’s why its Department for International Trade welcomed a £160 million ($270 million) investment from Dutch investor Maas Capital to unlock a £1 billion ($1.3 billion) program to install solar on 800,000 homes of lower-income UK residents across England and Wales.
“After a record year for new foreign investment into the UK, this initial £160 million capital expenditure program will deliver massive benefits to some of the UK’s poorest households. As well as creating 1,000 jobs and delivering cheaper energy bills for up to 800,000 homes, it shows yet another vote of confidence in the UK as a place to invest and do business,” said Trade Minister Greg Hands.
Low-income residents across the world can benefit the most from residential solar power. Earlier this year, the Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) published its Bringing the Benefits of Solar Energy to Low-Income Consumers showed that median income households in the US spend 3.5 percent of their income on electricity bills, while low-income households spent 7.2 percent of their income on power. The difference is more pronounced as they don’t have extra money to spend to cover such bills and manage other expenses.
Under the Community Energy Scheme Solarplicity will partner with social housing providers to install solar on their housing stock, which will be offered free to their tenants. According to Solarplicity, the solar arrays will reduce tenants’ energy bills by an average of £240 ($311) a year, saving up to £192 million ($249 million) a year while providing them with 100 percent renewable electricity. The first 100,000 residences will receive solar panels in the next 18 months and over the next five years a total of 800,000 will receive solar panels under the scheme.
The program also aims to create more than 1,000 new solar installation and maintenance jobs, Solarplicity said. The company added that it aims to train and hire veterans for many of the positions.
“Today’s announcement is a reflection of our exciting growth in the energy market, backed by international capital investment through DIT. Solarplicity is committed to reducing energy bills for both solar and non-solar customers,” said David Elbourne, CEO of Solarplicity. “Equipping them with the latest smart technologies, and 100% renewable energy, they are guaranteed to save with our Fair Market Price.”
While there have been efforts in the US to support low-income solar programs, like Los Angeles’ LA 500 program last year, there haven’t been any as large as the new program in the UK. Under the new UK program over 290,000 homes in the North West will receive solar panels. In the North East and Midlands 184,000 homes will go solar and 154,000 homes will go solar from Leeds to Derby.Tweet