Julie James Minister For Climate Change In Wales, P Welsh Government
Welsh minister for climate change Julie James visited Rhiw Cefn Gwlad on 4 August. Credit: via Welsh Government

Wales to invest £250m to build 20,000 low-carbon homes

Julia Hatmaker

The decision is inspired by the success of Rhiw Cefn Gwlad, a neighbourhood of 14 all-electric homes that had their first negative energy bill within three months of being built.

That means the homes produced more energy than they used.

Julie James, Wales’ minister for climate change, visited the neighbourhood on 4 August. She called the development “an exemplar” for others to follow. She added that her visit only reinforced her confidence that pushing for more “power positive” properties in Wales is the thing to do.

“We are building at scale to address the supply and demand imbalance, homelessness, the growing second homes crisis, and the climate emergency,” James said. “We are building high-quality homes to make a difference to people’s quality of living. And we are ensuring the decisions we make today are the right ones for our future generations.”

The Rhiw Cefn Gwlad houses each have an A-rated energy performance, due to several factors:

  • Roofs are made from panels of photovoltaic cells that turn daylight into electricity, which helps power the house
  • A combined air source heat pump and ventilation system provides heating and hot water
  • Cupboards have Tesla batteries and store the energy from the PV cells on the roof
  • Walls are made from Structured Insulated Panels and have higher levels of heat retention
  • Residents can use a wall-mounted screen to track energy use
  • Equipment is able to be remotely monitored and adjusted so that residents can quickly handle any issues

The houses were built with £2.4m in Welsh government funding and £1.4m from the Wales & West Housing Association. They were constructed by Jehu Group, completing in January 2021.

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Great news! If only Westminster were anywhere near as committed to taking action on climate change

By New Mancunian

So let me get this right, funding alone is £3.80M so thats £271k per unit….thats hardly in investment is it?? I would like to see the Business Case for that and the payback period including maintenance…

By CarbonCosts

@ByCarbonCosts – That is more than usual for a unit – but you’d expect to have higher costs for an innovative pilot and the amount invested per unit for the 20,000 homes is much lower at £12,500

By Innovation can cost

The development is in Bridgend, so the land will have been practically free. The developer must have been laughing all the way to the bank when they were handed £3.8m to deliver 14 units.

£271k per unit, in Bridgend!

I would also love a follow up story regarding the energy bills during the winter months.