Post-Subsidy Solar PV Business Models to Tackle Fuel Poverty in Multi-Occupancy Social Housing

Joe Pitt*, Colin Nolden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
91 Downloads (Pure)


UK Feed-in Tariffs created a vibrant business ecosystem for the deployment of decentralised renewable energy technologies while constituting a regressive tax and increasing inequality. Business model innovation spurred by their withdrawal is providing valuable lessons for progressive policy design. Using the case study of solar PV deployment on multi-occupancy social housing, this paper reveals policy, business and organisational challenges that need to be overcome to address fuel poverty and reduce inequality. Suitable ‘export’ and ‘local’ business models were identified through a workshop and subsequently evaluated through qualitative thematic interview analysis. The ‘local’ model compares favourably in terms of production costs and benefits for fuel poor tenants but unfavourably in terms of transaction costs. Both models are considered equally susceptible to changes in policy. Their success hinges upon third party intermediaries, peer-to-peer learning and a supportive policy environment. This paper concludes with a policy recommendation to ensure that energy justice lies at the heart of the UK’s transition to net-zero carbon through the fair distribution of costs and benefits by including specific provisions to protect low-income groups.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4852
Number of pages15
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 16 Sept 2020


  • social housing
  • solar PV
  • feed-in tariff
  • community energy
  • multi-occupancy buildings
  • fuel poverty
  • energy justice


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