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Spanish social housing innovations inspire low carbon developments in Gloucestershire

Severn Wye's recent visit to Seville promises to yield big things for energy efficient social housing across the county

An invitation to share knowledge and ideas in building low carbon homes saw a delegation of Gloucestershire business people, led by Severn Wye Energy Agency and including local social housing provider Severn Vale and energy storage experts PureDrive visit the Andalusian Energy Agency in Spain recently.

Brian Canning, Head of Energy Services for Severn Wye, visited the Spanish energy agency with Mike Craggs, Asset and Commercial Director for Severn Vale Housing and Mark Millar, Managing Director of battery storage technology firm PureDrive.

Site visits to two social housing schemes were led by AVRA, which acts on behalf of the Ministry of Development and Housing in Andalucia.

Mike Craggs said: “It was fascinating to see the Spanish approach to social housing, which shares many of the same issues as the UK, such as an ageing population, the migration of young people from their rural communities to larger urban areas and the challenge to build affordable, energy-efficient homes. One of the schemes we visited is a pilot project for low carbon building based on shipping container homes, so there is real appetite for developing new ideas.”

“With the Spanish climate, solar power is a big plus for energy efficiency, but it’s clear there are real opportunities to take it a step further with battery storage technology. At Severn Vale Housing, we’ve been exploring solar panel and battery storage technologies, together with modular housing design and build, so it was good to share our knowledge and experience, and consider good practice from delegates from Spain and other European countries.”

Brian Canning added: “We’re working with a host of European partners the Interreg project Build to Low Carbon, which funded the trip, to develop key regional and national action plans to shape new opportunities around energy efficiency retrofit. A major part of the plan is sharing ideas and incorporating good practices between member states.

“The work being done at Severn Vale puts Gloucestershire at the forefront of innovation and provided a great platform for us to showcase the work to key partners in Andalusia. As a result, AVRA, which manage 80,000 social housing properties, is now coming over to the UK for an in-depth look at what has been achieved at Severn Vale with a view to introducing the technology into some of their own properties as part of a pilot. In addition, the learning from our Seville visit will help to inform the county’s 10-year strategy which will be published before the end of this year.”

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