Renewable energy technologies are to be delivered across 100 council homes in Aberdeen as part of a new £5.2m innovation programme to reduce carbon emissions and cut resident’s fuel bills.

SMS, a Glasgow-based firm which funds and installs carbon reduction technology assets, will partner with Aberdeen City Council to deliver the roll-out of green energy solutions to homes in the region.

It is hoped that the smart home energy scheme will demonstrate a viable route to net-zero carbon emissions for the housing sector in Scotland, where one in four households live in fuel poverty.

Successful in its bid to the department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, SMS’ scheme is backed by the government’s newly launched ‘social housing decarbonisation fund demonstrator’ and is to receive a £2.2m grant.

The new project comes after Citizens Advice Scotland called for greater investment in energy efficiency measures as it emerged a further 32,000 Scottish homes had been plunged into extreme fuel poverty during 2020.

The collaboration, which also includes Scotland-based delivery partners Robertson Group and IRT Surveys, will bring together a range of low-carbon generation and energy efficiency innovations that aim to demonstrate decarbonisation potential for the UK’s social housing stock, whilst also improving comfort and lowering energy costs for residents.

Sean Keating, head of New Energy Systems at SMS, said: “The UK today faces the enormous challenge of developing intelligent, scalable models that can decarbonise the UK housing stock in ways that are both commercially viable and affordable for residents.

“This new project, which we are delighted to say has received Government support through the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Demonstrator, aims to achieve exactly that. Working alongside Aberdeen City Council and our delivery partners, SMS’s financing ability and innovative technology-led solution looks to show how to improve the pace of decarbonisation retrofits whilst simultaneously developing a funding and service business model that encourages collaborative public and private sector investment.”

The installation phase of the scheme is expected to create 39 local jobs. 

Keating added: “By creating an expected 39 jobs locally through the initial trial phase of the scheme, our project additionally looks to demonstrate how – when delivered at scale – investment in green infrastructure can support the Government’s agenda to level up regional economic growth. Indeed, above all this project is about creating a more sustainable future: one that ensures affordable comfort in our homes, reduces fuel poverty, creates jobs, and ultimately protects our environment amidst climate change.”

The technologies planned for deployment include solar panels and heat pumps to remove the supply of carbon intensive fuels, installed alongside behind-the-meter battery storage systems.

SMS, who are financing the rollout at no upfront cost to the landlord or tenants, will intelligently operate the battery system through its cloud-based aggregation software, FlexiGrid.

Remotely optimising the use of a battery in this way removes the barrier of consumer behaviour change and maximises the consumption of renewable electricity generated on site by the solar panel.

The energy flexibility service is part of the company’s recently launched Solopower, which offers a fully financed rollout of solar PV and battery storage in order to help social housing landlords tackle rising electricity costs and carbon emissions.

As part of the project’s ‘fabric-first, whole-home approach’, each property will be surveyed using thermal imaging technology which can identify where fabric improvements are required to reduce space heating demand.

Through implementing these fabric upgrades in tandem with the installation of renewable energy assets, the project aims to showcase a route to achieving net-zero emissions through a financed and scalable business model.

The project is planned for completion in December 2021, after which the energy performance of the 100 homes will be re-surveyed and monitored for a period of six months to demonstrate concept efficacy.