Poplar HARCA is a registered social landlord which owns and manages around 9,000 homes in Tower Hamlets, East London. In 2014 Poplar HARCA engaged AgilityEco, alongside Pellings, to create and deliver an energy efficiency and sustainability strategy, for the benefit of its residents. In the project’s first phase, cavity wall insulation was installed in 1,300 Hard-to-Treat flats. For the second phase of the strategy, Poplar HARCA decided to trial a solar photovoltaic (PV) installation, to help it assess the feasibility and practicalities of a larger rollout of solar PV across its portfolio.
AgilityEco, working in partnership with Pellings LLP, provided end-to-end support to Poplar HARCA in its solar PV trial. Beginning with desktop roof assessments and field surveys, AgilityEco was able to identify suitable properties for the trial. Further work included detailed financial modelling, full technical specification and design as well as conducting the tender process to select a suitable installer. AgilityEco was the main contractor for these solar PV installations.
Given the dense urban location, most of Poplar HARCA’s housing is in multi-storey residential blocks, many of them flat-roofed. Four blocks in Poplar HARCA’s portfolio (a total of 420 dwellings) were earmarked for the first phase of the project, three flat roofed and one pitched roof. One particularly interesting aspect was that, with our support, Poplar HARCA used this trial to assess an innovative technology. Two of the selected blocks were identical ‘side by side’ rooftops. One was fitted with conventional “string” inverters (where multiple solar panels are connected to a single DC/AC inverter) and the other with Enphase micro-inverter technology (each panel is connected to its own individual inverter). It is claimed that micro-inverter technology significantly increases the annual production from a solar installation, particularly where "shadowing" occurs. This trial will give Poplar HARCA the opportunity to assess the financial case for a broader use of micro-inverters across a much larger planned solar PV rollout.
In partnership with community sustainability funding specialist GeoCapita, AgilityEco also secured FIT pre-registration for approximately 60 of Poplar HARCA’s residential blocks, alongside a larger number of blocks for other councils in London. This will enable the rollout of solar PV to these blocks, enjoying FIT returns at the higher rates that were in place prior to the government announcements at the end of 2015. This rollout will be executed and financed via a community benefit scheme where the profits from solar generation are ploughed back into the local community to improve energy efficiency, fuel poverty and carbon emissions.
Lower communal electricity bills will be passed onto Poplar HARCA’s residents in some blocks through reduced service charges. Poplar HARCA is also enjoying financial returns via Feed-in Tariff (FIT) and export payments. These returns will be invested back into the community through a new Community Benefit Fund which aims to support community projects, improve energy efficiency and reduce fuel poverty in this hard-pressed London borough.
We’re excited that, with the help and expertise of AgilityEco, Poplar HARCA is releasing the potential of solar PV for the benefit of its residents and the environment. We are keen, where possible, for our residents to start realising real savings through these new communal energy efficiencies and for all to reap the rewards from our Community Energy Scheme. AgilityEco has created a unique offering for our energy efficiency and sustainability strategy and we are delighted with the progress and success of the project so far and our continued relationship with both AgilityEco and Pellings.”
Environmental Innovation Coordinator