Who: South Devon Rural Housing Association (SDRHA)
Where: 42 properties across the region
What: 607 solar panels
Size: 151.74 kW total
Makes: 148,000 kWh of electricity per year
Average equivalent saving: reduces CO2 emissions by about 85 tonnes per year.

We notice a real difference in the summer and pay half as much as before. I am on a key meter so it is easy to monitor in terms of time between top-ups.”

Cheryl Usher-Philipson, Shine solar recipient.

Outcomes and benefits

Expected annual generation will be 148,000 kWh.  CO2 equivalent avoided by the use of clean energy will be 71,000kg or 71 tonnes per year.*

If Shine residents are paying 15p/kWh and they use half of the PV electricity (the assumed norm), then, in total, they would be saving £13,338 per year.  If they use all the PV electricity they would be saving £26,676. Actual savings are probably somewhere in between.

* Based on Defra – average of 2014 & 2015 numbers.

The Shine Project | Social Housing Initiative for New Energy


The Shine Project is the result of a partnership between South Devon Rural housing Association (SDRHA) and TRESOC. The project was completed in 3 phases and took almost 2 years to complete. In 2015, TRESOC was awarded RegenSW’s ‘South West Green Energy Award for the Best Community Initiative’ for the Shine Project.

Lower electricity bills for SDRHA residents
The result is solar PV on the roofs of 40 SDRHA homes across the region, from Plymouth to Exeter, concentrated in Totnes and Dartington – which means cheaper electricity bills for tenants and welcome relief from rising energy prices. And thanks to SDRHA, the majority of properties also receive a device for solar-heated hot water. The project includes arrays on Forder Lane House and a 25-bed care home and SDRHA’s HQ (also home to Devon County Council’s Totnes Work Hub).

Local roots
SDRHA was established in 1958 and its purpose at that time was to provide housing for staff retiring from work on The Dartington Hall Trust’s country estate. The Association has evolved over the years into a strong, community-based organisation for South Devon.

Local business and jobs
Totnes company Beco Energy Solutions completed the survey work, installation, project management and customer care throughout the project. Another local company, Argand Solutions, is working with generation data from this project to develop their energy data analytics platform (Energy Lenz).

Using local investment capital to buy, install and maintain the panels means that profits from the scheme will go back into local people’s pockets, and back into the local economy.

Participant feedback


After Shine Phase 2 was complete, we asked 21 participating tenants to fill in a short survey about their experience with the Shine Project.  10 people returned the survey.

  • 9 out of 10 survey respondents reported having a positive attitude towards PV.
  • 7 out of 10 people were happy or better with the solar system once it was up and running.
  • 6 out of 10 people claimed to have changed the way they use electricity since the panels were installed (we provided printed information and talked through the process with everyone).
  • 7 out of 10 people reported changes in their energy bills (i.e. they could see a reduction).

It’s a fair assumption to say that the process raised awareness of electricity use patterns with most people.  As time passes, we expect to be able to see some clearer ‘before & after’ data.

“TRESOC’s community investment model is allowing us to benefit a large proportion of our tenants simply because TRESOC can operate at scale. The fact that SDRHA tenants will benefit directly from lower electricity bills, and TRESOC’s local members will benefit from Feed in Tariff income is ideal.  And, not investing our capital in retrofit solar means that we can continue to explore other renewable energy technologies, allowing us to look to the future. It’s a perfect model for any housing association. Local money, local investment, what’s not to like?”

Steve Prime, SDRHA CEO

“This project clearly shows how TRESOC can use local investment capital to benefit the local economy and to support people in our community potentially at risk in terms of fuel poverty”

Ian Bright, TRESOC MD