Residents on Welsh housing estate slash bills by generating own energy

Energy bills woes are a thing of the past for those living on a Welsh housing estate whose homes now run on solar-powered batteries as part of a unique energy-sharing scheme.

The Penderi estate in Swansea is the site for what has been dubbed Europe’s biggest green retrofit project, covering some 644 properties, according to social housing provider Pobl.

The enterprise was funded jointly by the European Union (£3.5m), Pobl (£1.5m), and a £900,000 infrastructure upgrade by Western Power.

Wales’ housing minister Julie James hailed the scheme, which uses solar panels on residents’ roofs to generate power to charge batteries inside people’s homes, as “transformational”.

Nikita Harris, 26, who now has a battery fitted to a wall inside the entrance to her property on the estate, said the installation had reduced her concern over the cost of her energy bills.

“Where I used to worry going to bed, I don’t have to worry now,” she told the BBC.

The mother-of-two said she had managed to slash her electricity bill by limiting her use of larger appliances during the day.

“I used to spend £20 a week on my electric,” she said. “Now with the solar panels and battery, I’m putting in £10 a week.

“By having the battery in my home ... I feel calmer,” she told the broadcaster.

“It’s hard watching people say they’re struggling to get food or do they get electric,” Ms Harris said. “It is worrying times for everybody, but this has helped.”

Pobl has so far installed energy storage and smart energy management technology in 200 homes, which it said had already begun to cut the amount of power being taken from the national grid.

It is hoped the retrofitted homes will generate up to 60 per cent of their own electricity, helping to reduce bills and cut carbon emissions by as much as 350 tonnes each year.

“The aim is to ... protect our customers from the peaks and troughs in the volatility in the market that we currently see now,” Pobl director of regeneration Solitaire Pritchard told the BBC.

“We hope to learn how people live with this technology,” Ms Pritchard said.