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5 January 2017

Super-Efficient ‘Solar Village’ Aims to Tackle Fuel Poverty in Wales

The town of Glanrhyd, Pembrokeshire (I’ve never been so thankful to be a writer so I don’t have to attempt to pronounce that name and butcher it in the process) is to become home to one of Wales’ very first ‘solar villages’ in a direct attack on the UK’s growing fuel poverty crisis.

The Pentre Solar hamlet in Glanrhyd, Pembrokeshire           - Img source: Western Solar
Backed by a government investment of £141,000, the six timber-framed homes at the Pentre Solar hamlet are designed with energy efficiency in mind and could save their new tenants, who will be selected from Pembrokeshire council’s social housing waiting list, up to £2,000 per year in annual living costs thanks to their A++ energy ratings. If the initiative achieves success the company plans to build 1,000 new homes over the next 10 years; according to Western Solar chief executive Dr Glen Peters, the first six houses that comprise this village are intended to “demonstrate to sceptical housing providers that people don't have to choose any more between putting food on the table and keeping warm."

So how exactly does this remarkable little village manage to make such substantial savings? Let’s start with the insulation, which is a whopping 280mm thick (many forms of standard cavity wall insulation top out at 50mm). This allows the homes to retain heat much more effectively, which will make a noticeable difference to heating bills on its own.

Reduced demand for heating appliances will result in a drastic drop in energy usage, but with just about every item we own today running on electricity and providers charging an arm and a leg for power enough to run a toaster, your bill for electricity can soon add up. Well, guess what? The homes provide that too! You can’t call it a solar village without solar panels, and the panels installed on the roofs of each home in the Pembrokeshire development are capable of producing 6000kWh per year. According to OVO Energy, the average UK household only uses around 4,000kWh per year, so that’s some pretty simple math right there.

As if all that wasn’t enough, tenants are also given free access to a shared electric car, furthering the development's green potential.

Environment Secretary Lesley Griffiths, who is set to unveil the village upon completion, said of the development, "I am delighted to officially open this innovative housing development, which is not only providing much-needed housing for local people, it is also addressing many other issues such as energy efficiency, fuel poverty, skills development and the use of Welsh timber. I am sure the tenants will be very happy in their new homes with much lower energy and heating costs."


Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.