Skip to main content

The development consists of 16 properties for social rent, across 1 bed flats, 2 and 3 bed houses.  The site has been developed by Pobl Group, and is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (via Welsh Government) and UK Government department of Business Energy Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as part of the ‘Building for 2050’ project.

The building design is based upon the Solcer House project (Cenin site, Stormy Down, South Wales) “the first affordable energy positive house to be built in the UK”. “We took the SOLCER House kind of idea and applied it to a slightly more conventional design… So the suite of technologies, the [transpired] solar collector, the battery, the PVs, the air source heat pump, all of it was based on SOLCER House” (Expert 13).

The homes generate heat through transpired solar collectors cladded onto walls and electricity via BIPVCo solar integrated roofs, with air source heat pumps to provide hot water for the properties. The properties have structurally insulated panels, Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR) systems and Tesla powerwall batteries that enable energy storage.

The site has suffered several setbacks initially related to drainage and local geologies, then technical installation faults, to later difficulties in achieving indoor temperatures high enough to let to social tenants. Time taken to resolve technical issues has also been exacerbated by Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. Adding to the pressure to solve the technical issues was the need to let residents who had been selected for the development during 2018 move in as soon as possible.

After investigation by Pobl and the related engineering contractors it has been ascertained that the MVHR which had been installed as a combination of air filter and heat circulation, with heat re-cycled from warm air generated from the transpire solar collectors was not providing enough heat. Initial attempts to resolve this were to increase the capacity of the MVHR fans; however, this was unsuccessful. In 2020, wall mounted panel electric radiators were installed throughout the homes to provide an additional heat source.

Since occupation of the properties at Clos y Wawr by the residents, several common issues have been reported to Pobl. These include more standard snagging issues associated with moving into a new-build home (i.e. small leaks, broken tiles), to technical issues associated with the energy technology. Of particular concern was that residents were reporting very high energy bills, as the opposite outcome was expected.
Pobl have met with each household to try and understand exactly what the issues are at each property. The issues have centred on: cold temperatures, and cold air from the MVHR, inadequate hot water quantities (for multi-occupancy houses), inability to access the Tesla battery app, and finally high energy bills. Having taken on-board the residents’ concerns, Pobl have worked with the contractors and consultants to attempt to resolve the problems.