£1 billion solar power deal to lower social housing tenants' energy bills

International Trade Minister Greg Hands watches as solar panels are fitted on social housing in London. Credit: PA

Over 1,000 new jobs are to be created under a £1 billion scheme to install solar panels on social housing across England and Wales.

The plans will see 100,000 households receive panels over the next 18 months, reducing their energy bills to an average of £240.

According to Ovo Energy, in 2014, the average dual fuel bill was £1,344, the average electricity bill was £592, and the average gas bill was £752.

Under the scheme, around 800,000 households will be fitted with a solar panel over the next five years, with over 40 local authorities and other landlords already signed up to the programme.

The north-west will benefit most from the plans, with over 290,000 homes receiving solar panels in towns like Oldham and Bradford, followed by the north-east and midlands, with 184,000 and 154,000 homes from Leeds to Derby.

Many of the jobs to install and maintain the panels will go to veterans from the armed forces.

The Government has welcomed £160 million of capital spending by Dutch firm Maas Capital, which will help fund solar panels from UK company Solarplicity.

International Trade Minister Greg Hands visited a social housing development in Ealing, West London to see solarpanels being fitted.

Mr Hands said: "After a record year for new foreign investment into the UK, this initial £160 million capital expenditure program will deliver massive benefits to some of the UK's poorest households.

"As well as creating 1,000 jobs and delivering cheaper energy bills for up to 800,000 homes, it shows yet another vote of confidence in the UK as a place to invest and do business."

David Elbourne, chief executive of Solarplicity, said: "Today's announcement is a reflection of our exciting growth in the energy market, backed by international capital investment through the Department for International Trade."