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Since the late 1990s Kirklees Council has developed and supported a number of projects to increase the use of renewable energy in homes in Kirklees. The Re-Charge Scheme builds on previous projects and aims to further increase the number of renewable energy installations in local housing.
The scheme was launched in August 2008 with the aim of making micro-generation more accessible to householders in the area and therefore increase the number of renewable energy installations in local housing. Re-Charge offers interest free loans to home owners in the Kirklees local authority area in West Yorkshire (England, UK) of up to £10,000 to install renewable energy and low carbon technologies in their home. The scheme recently finished and has been closed to new applicants since summer 2010.
£2.8m was allocated to the scheme from the Council’s capital plan. A further £280k was secured from the UK national Low Carbon Building Programme and £110k from the Council’s Housing Regeneration funds to support installations within a particular area of Kirklees. To date around 224 installations have been completed and a further 50 or so will be completed in the next month. £500k of funds has supported households in fuel poverty, approx. 15% of the total budget.
Over the next 25 years around £1.7m will be received by households through the Feed In Tariff income. In addition, from June 2011 householders who have installed heat generating technologies will benefit from the Renewable Heat Incentive.
Around 200 tonnes of carbon are expected to be saved p.a from the installations by the time the scheme is completed.
The project has provided strong investment in the renewables industry in the local area and contributed to supporting and creating local jobs.
Figures and results from the Re-Charge Scheme:
NB: a further 50 or so jobs are expected to be installed over the next month, including one small scale hydro (3kWp) installation.
Carbon savings have been determined by the installers based on the expected output of the technology and the fuel to be displaced. The conversion from energy to carbon has been calculated using standard UK domestic carbon conversion factors.
All householders have agreed to provide information for case studies and an assessment of a percentage will be carried out following a 12 month operation to assess whether predicted savings are being achieved.
The scheme has provided significant investment to the local and regional microgeneration industry. The level of investment in solar PV required the installer to take on a further 2 teams (a total of 4 staff) to meet demand. The level of solar PV installations also supported a start-up business in the local area which now employs 8 staff to carry out PV installations. The company is now expanding into other renewable technologies and developing maintenance packages.
The critical success factors of the Kirklees Re-Charge scheme are that there are no up front costs to pay and savings on bills are felt immediately, the quality of the advice to the householder, and the confidence felt by the applicant of being involved in a Council-run scheme.
Key lessons learned involve the financing mechanism of the second charge taken by the Council over properties, this can be time-consuming and costly. Applicants were asked to provide all the permissions required to take part in the scheme in order to reduce this burden.
Learning around planning issues and the provision of pre-application support, for example when obtaining listed building consent for solar PV, can also be replicated by other organisations and also future planning applications within Kirklees.
Other lessons learned include the willingness of applicants to take advice and consider other technologies, which may be more appropriate, and that many preferred to borrow the maximum loan amount and make a customer contribution over this level rather than borrow less than the maximum.
The Re-Charge scheme was the first of its kind in the UK to test financing options for microgeneration technologies. Since its introduction the Feed In Tariff and Pay As You Save (loans repaid through the supply meter) finance mechanisms have been (or are being) introduced nationally. The aspects of the scheme around customer engagement, management of installers and the lessons learned around the technologies are replicable by other organisations rolling out large scale domestic renewable energy projects.