OVO and Cornwall Council team up for whole-house retrofit programme

Over 400 off-gas grid homes in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are to receive whole house retrofit upgrades designed to drastically improve their energy efficiency, as part of a new partnership between energy giant OVO and Cornwall Council.

Under the partnership, OVO’s Energy Solutions arm is to deliver the council’s Cornwall Winter Wellbeing partnership, which aims to undertake whole house retrofits that upgrade the fabric of a property before then installing energy-saving technologies such as heat pumps, high retention storage heaters, solar PV, and double glazing.

Through the project OVO Energy Solutions is set to deliver around 1,000 measures to over 400 properties, including external wall, cavity and loft insulation, underfloor insulation, and draught proofing, as well as clean tech installations.

The partnership is the latest of a series of deal with local authorities and housing associations which has seen OVO Energy Solutions improve more than 2,700 homes’ energy efficiency since 2020.

The company is also working in partnership with Cornwall Council and Cornwall Housing to deliver a Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Demonstrator project in Falmouth to 45 Cornish Units. The upgrades to the post-war properties are expected to deliver annual cost savings of around £600 per household.

“By working with leading local authorities and housing associations, we’ve unlocked a huge opportunity to create greener, more energy-efficient homes for those people who live in draughty homes and will benefit from lower energy bills,” said Raman Bhatia, CEO of OVO. “Now, more than ever, the projects are critical to supporting households during the cost of living crisis while also bringing down the carbon footprint of the home. We’re proud to be working with Cornwall Council to retrofit homes across the county by installing technology , such as heat pumps or solar panels, and improve the lives of people in the community.”

The partnership was welcomed by Business and Energy Minister Lord Callanan, who said that “improving the energy efficiency of UK buildings is the quickest way we can support families and businesses at a time of high global energy prices”.

“That’s why I am thrilled to see the UK government’s support of over £1m, delivered through the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Demonstrator, helping residents in Cornwall upgrade to homes that are cheaper to run, heat and cool, whilst supporting economic growth and jobs across the region.”

The news comes just days after the CBI called on the government to urgently approve plans for the next phase of the Energy Company Obligation scheme, which provides funding for domestic energy efficiency upgrade projects, and deliver outstanding manifesto efficiency promises to increase funding for energy schemes.

“We must fulfil the commitments this government made to close the investment gap in energy efficiency,” said CBI director-general, Tony Danker. “Commitments in their manifesto, no less. Let’s learn lessons from where previous policies like the Green Homes Grant have failed. And get a plan in place. We can get started really fast. The ECO scheme has outlasted others. It supports fuel poor households to save through energy efficiency measures. As such, it’s the fastest tool we have to get thousands more homes upgraded before the winter.”

The business group also called on the government to take specific steps to rapidly expand energy efficiency programmes. “The government has the opportunity right now to prioritise the legislation of the fourth ECO scheme before the summer recess,” Danker said. “And we can also go further. We’re asking the UK government to commit an additional £1bn of support annually and create ECO+, to help more households get started on the journey. Under ECO+, government funding could be matched by customer contributions – and made affordable through government working with banks and employers to develop green finance options that help spread the cost.”

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