UK: CNBM inks GBP 2.5bn deal to build thousands of solar homes

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The British government has welcomed a £2.5 billion ($3.12 billion) joint venture (JV) deal signed today between Your Housing Group (YHG) and WElink that will deliver up to 25,000 building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) pre-fabricated homes annually in the U.K. over the next five years.

Renewable energy developer WElink will work alongside Your Housing Group to oversee the project, which will be supported by China National Building Material Company (CNBM) and incorporate Barcelona Housing Systems design practices. The deal was partly brokered by the British government, which has been under pressure in recent years to support both home building and the country’s solar industry.

This deal does both, and will support the creation of six factories around the U.K. that will specialize in creating pre-fab BIPV homes. There will be five pilot schemes unveiled in 2017, delivering an initial 2,000 solar-powered homes, before production ramps to 25,000 BIPV homes annually by 2025, WElink says.

The city of Liverpool will receive the first batch of properties, which will be constructed using a design developed by Barcelona Housing Systems, which uses precision-produced steel frames and modern composite materials to create low-carbon and energy efficient homes.

CNBM, which has a growing solar portfolio, will provide financing for the JV and will also build the six U.K. factories. A total of 1,000 jobs are expected to be created across the country as a result of this partnership. WElink and YHG are assessing potential factory locations in strategic spots in Scotland, South Wales and all four corners of England.

“This JV will give a significant kick-start to delivering the new homes people need across the U.K., which includes helping to address fuel poverty issues through our incorporated solar and energy efficient design – meaning our developments can be at least 75% off-grid,” said WElink Group chairman Ajmal Rahman.

“The key to unlocking the opportunities to address the housing needs of the U.K. is through the development and delivery of an industrialization strategy at significant scale,” said CNBM chairman Peng Shou. “To this end, CNBM is committing to six factories across the U.K. to deliver modern housing agreed in this deal on a national level.”

The U.K. government has pledged to build one million new homes across Britain between now and 2020, and is also signed up to the Paris Agreement to lower its carbon footprint by 25% by 2030.