Solar Energy UK has stated that “planning rules have become uneven and unfair” for installing solar panels.

A statement released by the organisation highlights an altercation that occurred in Derbyshire when a local resident installed solar panels on her roof. According to the BBC, it is alleged that Mary Smail, of Ashbourne, Derbyshire, applied to her local council to gain planning permission to install solar panels.

However, the council replied stating that there was “no chance of it being granted due to the historic nature of the area”. It is then believed that “she installed them anyway while the council was considering her application and applied retrospectively for permission, which was refused”.

Derbyshire Dales District Council obtained a court injunction to remove the solar panels alongside threats that she could be jailed for two years if she did not comply. The solar panels are now in the process of being taken down, Solar Energy UK said.

Solar Energy UK stated: “The root of the issue is that Ms Smail’s home is both in a conservation area and is a Grade II listed building. Under current rules, both listed building consent and planning permission would be needed to make the installation lawful, though this does not apply everywhere.”

Chris Hewett, chief executive of Solar Energy UK provided his verdict on the situation. He said: “While Ms Smail’s actions were unwise, the rules that led to this situation make not a jot of sense and offer no public benefit.

“We strongly encourage the government to implement recently proposed reforms to permitted development rights, so that people like Ms Smail will be able to enjoy the same benefits that solar now gives to over 1.2 million UK households: cutting bills, cutting emissions and avoiding burdens on over-stretched planning departments.”


Source: Solar Power Portal


Bringing together the best of the best businesses and leaders at the forefront of offsite construction, the 2023 Offsite Awards shines a light on the ideas, innovations and products driving offsite and MMC technology further than ever before.

A year of progress and change, 2023 has seen offsite construction make impressive leaps forward in technology, engineering and design. With more focus on better performance, streamlined manufacturing and the delivery of safer, greener structures, offsite is helping to advance a better, more sustainable UK construction landscape.

Celebrating the significant achievements of the industry over the past twelve months, the Offsite Awards – held at the Coventry Building Society Arena on 19 September – showcased the people and businesses driving change and championing the benefits of offsite to the construction community.

Every year, the awards give an incredible insight into the breadth and complexity of offsite projects across the built environment. The 2023 awards received over 200 entrants across 23 categories, with many outstanding examples of pioneering projects, innovative products and inspirational people, the judging panel had a tough job selecting the winners from a wealth of worthy finalists.

Following a drinks reception, the awards ceremony – hosted by comedian and TV presenter Lucy Porter- offered the perfect opportunity for the finalists to network and discover more about the inspiring entries.

It was a great night for HLM Architects, B&K Structures, Engenuiti and Stora Enso, who took home the coveted ‘Winner of Winners’ award for their project, National Manufacturing Institute Scotland.

The BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ NMIS headquarters is a unique, iconic flagship facility which places Scotland firmly at the front of advanced manufacturing innovation. Its design and delivery reflects this through the creative use of MMC for greater efficiency through repetitive elements, minimised material use and wastage, and opportunity for future expansion. The project is an example of pushing the boundaries of offsite construction to achieve unique, world-class facilities.

The judges said:

“This project is a standout, as befitting its use. The flexible design, range of MMC solutions deployed and recognition of its educational use are truly extraordinary. That this has been achieved while also delivering high quality, statement architecture is a testament to the skills and experience of these worthy winners.”

Congratulations to all the 2023 winners!


 The 2023 Winners


Architect of the Year HLM – Architects National Manufacturing Institute Scotland
Best use of Concrete Technology PCE – Assembly C
Best use of Hybrid Technology Citu – The Climate Innovation District
Best use of MEP & Pod Technology Volumetric Modular Bathroom and MEP Pods
Best use of Steel Technology Design4Structures – Lucent
Best use of Timber Technology Winner 1: Engenuiti – Stora Enso – Ryder Architecture and B&K Structures – Port Of Tyne O&M Base – Dogger Bank

Winner 2: STOAS Architects & Aldi Stores – Leamington Spa – Low Carbon Store

Best use of Volumetric Technology Algeco – Algeco Delivers Turnkey Solution at £19.2m Leeds Academy Project Using Seismic Platform
BIM/Digital Construction Award Kier – Component Tracking in Complex Supply Chains: HMP Millsike
Building Performance Pioneer Saint Gobain Off-site Solutions – eHome2
Client of the Year Housing 21 – Patent Walk
Commercial Project of the Year B&K Structures – Stora Enso and Ryder Architecture – Port of Tyne O&M Base – Dogger Bank
Contractor of the Year  ES GLOBAL – ABBA Arena
Education Project of the Year Innovaré Offsite – West Coventry Academy
Engineer of the Year Heyne Tillett Steel – Technique – Clerkenwell
Healthcare Project of the Year Winner 1: McAvoy – University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust – Modular Wards

Winner 2: MTX – Derriford Hospital – Royal Eye Infirmary

Infrastructure Project of the Year Knight Architects – Network Rail FLOW Bridge
Installer of the Year Lift and Locate – Wood Wharf
International Project of the Year Casas inHAUS – Modular Villa and Prefabricated Concrete Cantilever Pool – Valencia
Offsite Pioneer of the Year Oliver Novakovic – Barratt Developments – eHome2 at Energy House 2.0
Private Housing Project of the Year Hawkins\Brown – Portlands Place – Stratford
Product Innovation of the Year Explore Manufacturing – Modular Bridges
Retail/Leisure Project of the Year B&K Structures – Grosvenor – Heyne Tillett Steel and Stiff & Trevillion – Newson’s Yard
Social Housing Project of the Year ZED PODS – Hill Street House
Winner of Winners HLM Architects – B&K Structures – Engenuiti and Stora Enso – National Manufacturing Institute Scotland


CLICK HERE to find out more about the 2023 Offsite Awards

UPDATED: 28.09.23


A spokesperson from Comer Homes Group said: “The Comer Homes Group is surprised and extremely disappointed by the decision of the Royal Borough of Greenwich to issue an enforcement notice in respect of our Mast Quay Phase ll development.

“We are particularly surprised to see the accompanying public statements which are inaccurate and misrepresent the position and our actions.

“We will be appealing against the enforcement notice and look forward to robustly correcting the inaccuracies and addressing the council’s concerns.”

“The Royal Borough of Greenwich has taken the decision, as the local planning authority, to progress with enforcement action against the Comer Homes Group’s Mast Quay Phase II development of two residential towers, one of which is stepped, with 23, 11, nine and and six storeys, located on Woolwich Church Street, London SE18.

“The Council’s extensive investigation over the last year has concluded that the completed Mast Quay Phase II built-to rent-development has been built without planning permission and is therefore unlawful because it is so substantially different to the scheme that was originally permitted by the planning permission given in 2012.

“In total there are at least 26 main deviations to the original planning permission. These include:

  • visible design changes to the external appearance of the towers – the final towers look more solid and bulky because of the removal of the stepped back top floor and the glazed curtain wall façade to Block E that would have given the appearance of a sail.
  • visible changes to the materials and windows – different cladding, less glazing, smaller balconies, smaller windows and no wraparound balconies resulting in a reduction of daylight and sunlight, and to a reduced outlook.
  • increasing the approved size of the footprint of both towers
  • not providing the roof gardens for residents and the public, children’s play areas, green roofs or landscaped gardens
  • lower quality residential accommodation
  • non accessible ‘accessible’ apartments that have steps to the balconies so that wheelchair users cannot use their outdoor space.
  • provision of a residents’ gym in place of the approved commercial floorspace which is also not accessible to anyone who uses a wheelchair
  • a reduction of the amount of commercial floorspace for offices, shops and cafes at ground-level
  • failure to provide enough underground car parking so that car parking dominates at ground level replacing what should have been a landscaped garden area with trees and plants and less car parking overall that could place pressure on street parking
  • a lack of disabled parking bays
  • shared residential/commercial basement access that could lead to conflicts
  • a poorer quality footbridge to Woolwich Church Street

“The Council believes that the only reasonable and proportionate way to rectify the harm created by the finished Mast Quay Phase II development to the local area, and the tenants living there, because of the changes made during its construction is the complete demolition and the restoration of the land to its former condition.

“Therefore, the Council issued an enforcement notice on Monday 25 September which is subject to appeal rights for a period of at least 28 days following the date of issue. To support the residents currently living in the development the Council has written to them directly to provide them with support, assistance and advice.”


Cllr Anthony Okereke, Leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, said:

“This decision is not one that the Royal Borough of Greenwich has taken lightly, but I believe it is reasonable and proportionate to the scale and seriousness of the situation. Mast Quay Phase II represents two prominent high-rise buildings on Woolwich’s riverside that just are not good enough, and the reason that they are not good enough is because the development that was given planning permission is not the one that we can all see before us today.

“In Our Greenwich, our vision for the borough by 2030, I committed to development that delivers positive change to the area for existing and new communities, and this is simply not the case with Mast Quay Phase II.

“The right thing to do is not usually the easy thing to do. That is why we will not standby and allow poor quality and unlawful development anywhere in our borough and we are not afraid of taking difficult decisions when we believe it’s the right thing to do.”

Cllr Aidan Smith, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said:

“The Mast Quay Phase II development had the potential to deliver hundreds of beautiful riverside apartments in an exciting area of London with a rich maritime past. Instead, what we have is a mutant development that is a blight on the landscape, local conservation zone and heritage assets and views.

“High quality, beautiful and sustainable buildings and places are fundamental to what the planning and development process should achieve. Good design is a key aspect of sustainable development, creating better places in which to live and work. As a borough we work with many responsible property developers who deliver schemes that we can be proud of and we will always work with responsible developers to unlock sites and deliver the new homes that our borough needs.

“If a scheme matching what has been built at Mast Quay Phase II was submitted for planning permission today, it would be refused, and we cannot let what has been delivered at Mast Quay Phase II go unchallenged.”

Cllr Ann-Marie, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Enforcement, said:

“Following a complex, lengthy and detailed investigation, including complaints from local residents, we are taking this unprecedented step because of the magnitude of the number of significant deviations that we have discovered from what was approved by the original planning permission. We believe Mast Quay Phase II represents significant harm to the area and harm to present and future occupiers of the buildings.

“The developer has had plenty of opportunities to apply for planning permission to vary what they had permission to build before they carried out the work, instead of applying after they had already done it. For example, since starting work on site in 2015 they have had many years to engage with us regarding the amendments they claim it was necessary to make, due to changes in building regulations, yet there was no contact or application made, and an attempt was only made retrospectively as a consequence of the enforcement investigation.

“Why should children have no place to play because it was cheaper not to include it? Why should disabled tenants be prisoners in their own homes because step free access to the balconies wasn’t included? Why should the outside areas be dominated by tarmac and cars instead of trees and grass and plants?

“Without enforcement our planning system can have no integrity and that is why we will not shy away from property developers exploiting the system for their own gain, to the detriment of residents and other responsible developers who do the right thing.”

Link to the FAQ:




Sheffield’s first ‘net zero in operation’ Council homes lifted into position

Over three days in August 2023, Sheffield’s first ‘net zero in operation’ council homes were safely lifted into position at the Duffield Place site in Woodseats.

Before being transported to site, the homes were built in a quality-controlled UK factory using a light gauge steel frame – a type of construction known as ‘volumetric off-site’ or ‘modular’.

Sheffield City Council is working with ZEDPODS Ltd to deliver six self-contained single person, high-quality homes. They have been built using ZEDPODS award winning low energy modular construction system.

The homes were designed by ZEDPODS team of in-house architects, using a ‘fabric-first’ approach – with walls, ceilings, windows, doors and roofs all super-insulated, achieving high levels of air tightness. The homes are all electric, fitted with heat pumps and rooftop mounted solar photovoltaic panels. This ensures that 100% of the in-use carbon emissions are offset, making the homes ‘Net Zero Operational Carbon’. This significantly reduces running costs for residents and contributes to the council’s ambition to reduce its carbon emissions to net zero by 2030. In addition, a whole life cycle carbon assessment is being undertaken to identify all environmental impacts of the scheme over its lifetime.

The on-site works started in March 2023, at the same time the homes were being manufactured off-site. This reduces the construction time by up to 50% compared to a traditional construction project. It also reduces the impact and disruption of construction related activity in the local community. The new homes are expected to be completed during Winter 2023/24.

These homes are being delivered as part of the council’s Stock Increase Programme, with investment from both the council (including from the Local Renewable Energy Fund) and the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

This project also delivers another first for the city – the Council’s first dedicated move-on homes. The homes will be managed by the Council, providing access to both an affordable home and individual support for people who have previously experienced homelessness. This support will help people to successfully move to a permanent home within two to three years.

As part of Changing Futures Sheffield, the Council has received valued input from people with lived experience of housing support services to develop this project.

Chair of Sheffield City Council’s Housing Committee Councillor Douglas Johnson said:

“I am delighted to see the council deliver its first ‘net zero in operation’ council homes – this is an important step for the city as we continue to find ways to address the net zero challenge and reduce the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on our residents. I look forward to visiting the new homes, and I will be particularly keen to talk to residents about their experience of living in these homes”.

“It’s also great to see this project deliver much needed supported housing on a council-owned brownfield site, whilst at the same time retaining and enhancing the adjacent green space through the planting of new trees”.

Tom Northway, Chairman at ZED PODS Ltd said:

“We are delighted to be working in partnership with Sheffield City Council to bring their first modular zero-operation carbon housing scheme into fruition as part of a full turnkey design & build package”.

“These houses will be of the very best design in terms of environmental performance and internal specifications, providing ultra-low energy bills for residents. Our inhouse team have worked closely with the client in every stages – from concept design to planning, from offsite fabrication of modules to training their maintenance team before the modules were brought to the site”.

This will be ZEDPODS’ first project in the City and is a brilliant example of how working with the local community, council officers and supply chain partners we can unlock constrained sites and deliver much needed affordable homes”.

Source: Sheffield City Council

Tata Projects has announced a partnership with Micron Technology to build a state-of-the-art semiconductor assembly and testing facility in Sanand, Gujarat. This project, which is the largest investment under the India Semiconductor Mission (ISM), will be situated on a 93-acre plot in the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation area of Chaarodi, Sanand.

The first phase of construction will include a 500,000 square feet cleanroom space, expected to be operational by late 2024. The facility will be the first in India to house DRAM (dynamic random access memory) and NAND (non-volatile flash memory) assembly and testing capabilities.

Tata Projects plans to employ modern construction methods and techniques for this project, including integrated EPC delivery through 4D BIM and hybrid modular accelerated construction. The Sanand factory will also adhere to LEED Gold Standards of the Green Building Council and incorporate advanced water-saving technologies.

The groundbreaking ceremony for this semiconductor plant, a first for India, has already taken place in Gujarat. Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology, Ashwini Vaishnaw, expressed confidence that the plant’s construction would be completed soon. He anticipates that the first indigenous microchips will be produced by December 2024.

Vaishnaw highlighted the growth of India’s electronics industry under PM Modi’s leadership, noting that the manufacturing cost of mobile phones has increased from ₹17,000 crores in 2014 to ₹3,65,000 crores today. The electronics industry’s value has also grown from ₹1,90,000 crores to ₹8,30,000 crores. Exports have seen a fivefold increase from ₹40,000 crores to ₹2,00,000 crores. Vaishnaw attributed these advancements to semiconductor chips and stated that India is on track to become a major semiconductor hub.

Source: Business Upturn

BuildData Group Launches Research Institute to Influence Digital Information Strategies, Management and Modelling across the Built Environment

London, UK—21st September 2023:  BuildData Group AB (“BuildData”) announces the launch of its Research Institute, headed up by Emma Hooper, who will be responsible for research and development across the group’s brands, Zutec & Createmaster.

Set up to better understand and take a lead on the digital transformation of the built environment, the BuildData Group Research Institute will focus on the importance of information as data, its role today and tomorrow as a valuable asset, and devise strategies and concepts to build out an information theory that will drive better building outcomes.

The built environment and digital worlds are constantly evolving, and ensuring the right stakeholders have the right information at the right time is critical. By digging deeper into the construction industry with regards to trends, standards, policy, regulations and best practice that influence information and data today, the primary purpose of the Research Institute will be to actively help shape, guide and educate the industry through research and thought leadership, with an emphasis on information management which is at the heart of digital transformation.

The BuildData Group Research Institute launches with a new paper written by Emma Hooper: Rethinking Information Management and Modelling”, which focuses on whether the golden thread of information, a requirement of the Building Safety Act, is a product of good information management, asking the question and reviewing what needs to happen to improve the management of information across the built environment?

Emma Hooper, Head of R&D at BuildData Group’s Research Institute, states,

“Our belief is that the industry requires a centre of excellence that looks at the bigger picture of information management and a common data framework, acting as think tank to help educate and shape data strategies. Our findings will feed into the wider work of BuildData Group to help provide the communications, services and products which will benefit one of the least digitised industry in the world — construction. However, crucially it will feed into the industry itself and how we can take an integrated approach to ensure better connected and structured data which has a consistent digital language as the industry moves towards a golden thread of information.”

Gustave Geisendorf, CEO at BuildData Group, adds,

“With an ever-evolving market, building regulations and standards, the Research Institute comes at a time when the role of information in the built environment has never been more necessary. It will not only enable us to deepen our knowledge and expertise of the built environment and changing landscape, but gives us the mechanism to share insight, thought leadership and research with the construction industry that helps shape its direction, particularly when it comes to building information management and modelling. We want to create a safer and more sustainable built environment, where information is as important as the building itself, and we will use our findings to educate the industry at large and drive new compelling events through digitalisation.”

To download the paper or to find out more about the Research Institute, please click here



 . . . . .  when they can be making our climate friendlier and our bank accounts fatter.

Tom Madden,TransMedia Group CEO and Chairman, reports on a Solar Energy Project by a company based in the USA


Those who are aloof usually aren’t very warm and friendly fellows.  They’re reserved and emotionally cold and detached persons who keep to themselves, drink espresso and read philosophy.

In Middle English, aloof was originally a nautical term; the loof (now spelled luff) is the windward side of a ship.

Sly sailors wanting to avoid a hazard on the leeward side would give the order, “A loof!” From this command we get the idea of steering clear of something (or someone). In modern usage the word took on a negative connotation: an aloof person is often considered cold or snobby.

Now, can you think of a more remote, unfriendly, uninviting place than that distant mostly vacant flatland over our heads, that desolate, often overheated surface atop most buildings called roofs?  Commercial roofs are like airports with runways, but no airplanes.

Sure, there are a few roof gardens, but it takes a lot of money and work to turn the typical roof into a place where you’d want to dine and dance and hang out under the stars.

The presidents of many condos, including mine, won’t even step foot on the roof.  To them it’s alien territory, a no man’s land.  Let Harry check it out.

Yet, instead of remote and distant, “aroof’ should be akin to the friendly woof woof dogs make when they see a friend.   Until now, the last thing you would ever want to pet was your roof. But that’s changing.  That’s right!  If you treat your roof right, it can be not only be your best friend, but your company’s bottom line pal.

And while aroof has a similar sound as “aloof,” it’s way above aloof in stature as today it offers many capabilities to improve not only balance sheets, but our environment.  Roofs can play a major role in putting climate change in a more positive and healthful direction.   Woof woof!

So, what’s On Your Roof?  Are you too aloof or are you aroof and ready to find out?

If you’re aloof, you’ll stop ignoring the potential of your roof to fatten your bottom line, while helping clean up our environment by having it outfitted with now highly functional and effective solar energy.

A leader in this field, SOLARBACK, plans to help Sunshine State businesses profit from solar energy.

Inspiration can strike at any time or place. For Joshua Schuster, the eureka moment came while he was walking across a crowded parking lot to a grocery store under the hot South Florida sun.

With the sun beating down on him, he was approaching this large shopping center. Schuster noticed how much unused horizontal real estate there is in South Florida.

He turns around and sees another shopping center across the street, then a strip mall next to that and eventually miles of empty roof space. If you imagine the roof as an additional usable floor, he wondered why would any landlord allow an entire floor to remain vacant without a tenant generating income?

The result of Schuster’s inspiration is SOLARBACK, a Boca Raton-based sister company to Schuster’s other CRE venture, SilverBack. Schuster is the managing and founding principal for the new company, whose team includes consultants and engineers with more than 50 years of combined experience in solar energy.

To Schuster, who has developed approximately $2B in mostly vertical commercial real estate in six states over the past decade, all of those vacant roofs present a largely untapped opportunity for building owners, landlords and investors. Instead of sitting largely vacant, flat commercial roofs across the state could be used to generate clean energy while contributing to a building owner’s net operating income.

Schuster estimates there’s roughly eight billion sq. ft. of untapped potential sitting atop America’s big-box stores and shopping centers. Big operators, such as IKEA and Walmart, already recognize the opportunity. SOLARBACK, however, is targeting businesses such as grocery-anchored shopping centers and strip malls, whose owners either may not be aware of the potential sitting atop their buildings or who lack the capital to install solar panels themselves.

After taking a crash course in solar engineering, he like many others are realizing that there is a huge opportunity here to take advantage of all that underused horizontal real estate by becoming the tenant for those spaces.

“In our meetings with landlords and property managers, the pitch is simply: ‘Are you making any money on your roof?’ The answer is typically no, but that they’d like to.”

Schuster said SOLARBACK can help create additional revenue streams for landlords of brick-and-mortar retail, an asset class that continues to feel the impact of competition from e-commerce.

The new company has signed letters of intent with landlords that it hopes to convert into long-term leases on about two million sq. ft. of Florida commercial roofs, Schuster said. SOLARBACK has identified about nine million sq. ft. of additional roof space in the Sunshine State that it could target for its unique business model.

Schuster said SOLARBACK seeks to enter into 25-year to 49-year leases with provisions that allow for demolition clauses or friendly buyouts if the landlord wants to unwind the lease sooner. In the meantime, SOLARBACK is responsible for paying for and installing the panels and all associated equipment. It will even install a new roof for the owner if necessary.

“We amortize our costs over the length of the long-term lease,” he said. “We’re not selling solar. Instead, we are tenants looking for real estate to rent, and then, just like with any tenant fit out, we’ll install our own system.”

Potential benefits for building owners include a lower energy bill, the ability to sell excess energy into the grid and a reduced carbon footprint.

Florida lawmakers might eventually allow building owners to sell excess energy directly to other power users via power purchase agreements, which are currently restricted under state law.

Entrepreneurs like Schuster see great potential at a time when energy rates are rising in Florida, while the cost to produce solar power shrinks.

They see increasing tailwinds behind this movement as Solar has become much more efficient while the rooftop modules themselves have become much cheaper and are hurricane-rated.  At the same time, there’s a strong movement, led by the Fortune 500, to reduce the carbon footprint. So far, there’s been an enthusiastic reception from building owners to SOLARBACK’S model.




Modular housing has the potential to be a significant part of the solution to the housing crisis for several reasons. Firstly, the energy efficiency of modular homes is a major advantage. Factory engineering in the construction of modular homes allows for high levels of sustainability, resulting in reduced energy consumption. The energy savings offered by modular homes can lead to significant cost reductions for homeowners, making them more affordable to live in. These energy-efficient homes not only benefit the occupants by lowering their energy bills but also contribute to overall environmental sustainability.

Additionally, the adoption of modular housing can enhance productivity and efficiency in the construction industry. Traditional builders have been slow to embrace new construction methods, and the housing industry has been resistant to modernization. However, modular homes offer the potential for increased productivity and streamlined construction processes. By adopting factory-built housing, the construction industry can address the flaws in the housing market and work towards meeting the ambitious targets set by the government for new home construction.

Modular buildings also have a lower carbon footprint compared to traditional builds. The reduced number of deliveries to the construction site leads to fewer emissions and less disturbance and pollution for nearby residents. The environmentally friendly aspects of modular construction, including its lower carbon footprint and reduced waste generation, can drive demand for this construction approach. As residents become more aware of the benefits, they are likely to advocate for modular construction in their neighborhoods, which can encourage local authorities to prioritize the use of modular methods in delivering new homes.

Furthermore, the efficiency of modular home construction is evident in the significant reduction in material waste compared to traditional builds. Research has shown that modular construction generates 90% less material waste, making it a more sustainable option. This reduced waste not only benefits the environment but also contributes to cost savings and more efficient resource utilization.

While there may be some initial challenges and higher construction costs associated with modular housing, such as the need for established builders to adopt these methods, the long-term benefits outweigh the initial investment. The potential to address the housing crisis, achieve energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions, and minimize waste makes modular housing a promising solution for the future.

UK-Germany energy link on track as construction advances

Construction on the UK-Germany interconnector is progressing as planned, with works underway in both countries and the project expected to be operational by 2028.

Construction is well underway on the £2.4 billion NeuConnect project, a pivotal energy link set to connect the UK and Germany.

With approximately 725 kilometres of land and subsea cables forming an ‘invisible energy highway,’ NeuConnect aims to unite two of Europe’s largest energy markets for the first time.

NeuConnect’s construction encompasses the installation of converter stations in Kent, England and the Wilhelmshaven region in northern Germany.

These stations will be connected by subsea cables traversing British, Dutch and German waters.

Led by global investors including Meridiam, Allianz Capital Partners, Kansai Electric Power, and TEPCO, the project is slated to become one of the world’s largest interconnectors.

The NeuConnect project is expected to be operational by 2028.

NeuConnect Chief Executive Officer Arnaud Grévoz said: “With works well underway in Germany and the UK, the delivery of this vital new energy link remains firmly on track.

Source: Energy Live



A pioneering cleantech company is set to unveil its prototype flatpack home built using sustainable and advanced materials after undergoing testing at a ground-breaking research facility in Greater Manchester.

Vector Homes is working with Energy House 2.0, part of the University of Salford, to develop its new rapid-build housing system.

The prototype is a low-carbon, one-bedroom bungalow measuring 40sq metres which has been constructed using recycled materials, including steel and plastics, as well as advanced materials such as graphene.

Vector is designing affordable, energy efficient homes with features including low-embodied carbon materials, infra-red heating, solar cells, breathable mould-resistant plaster and render, as well as embedded technology to provide smart environmental controls that efficiently measure and control the temperature, humidity and air quality in each room.

Its homes are designed for rapid production and assembly. Vector is looking to mass manufacture homes in a range of shapes and sizes which are sold as flatpacks to be built by a small team of people.

By incorporating graphene into the structures, the panels used in the construction of a Vector home have improved tensile strength, a greatly-reduced flame spread and increased UV resistance. Vector has worked with the University of Manchester’s Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre to develop ways of incorporating the material into its housing systems.

Vector is using the unique features of Energy House 2.0 to test the prototype’s thermal properties and its efficiency in different climates.

Energy House 2.0 can recreate temperatures from -20C to 40C, representing 95 per cent the inhabited earth, as well as recreating snow, wind, rain and solar energy to put the Vector home through its paces.

Launched earlier this year, the £16m Energy House 2.0, at the heart of the University of Salford’s Peel Park Campus, is globally unique and is helping to drive innovation in the housing sector already, through work with housebuilders Barratt and Bellway, and manufacturer Saint-Gobain.

Vector, which is led by chief executive Nathan Feddy and chief technical officer Dr Liam Britnell, has so far received backing from SFC Capital, GC Angels, the Greater Manchester Investment Fund which is the investment arm of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Innovate UK, the European Regional Development Fund and social housing investment firm HSPG.

Liam said: “Our mission is to cut carbon and costs in construction and our homes are designed to have 80 per cent fewer carbon emissions in the building process compared to a standard brick house.

“They are also designed to be dismantled rather than demolished at the end of life, with the components finding a second or even third life elsewhere.

From the microstructure to the superstructure of a Vector home, everything links back to efficiency and sustainability. Our homes will be super standardised to ensure the rapid production of components and assembly.

“The opportunity to work with Energy House 2.0 has been a dream come true. It’s a one-of-a-kind facility which enables testing for new types of construction methods.

“The Energy House 2.0 team have been incredible to work with, and in a few months’ time our housing system will have more empirical data than any other in the world. This will enable us to continue our iteration cycles to take Vector to the next level.”

The Vector Homes prototype will be officially unveiled at an open day and housewarming event on Thursday, September 21, which is being hosted in conjunction with specialist finance firm Together, for housing associations, local authorities, private developers, housebuilders and investors.

As well as showcasing the Vector Homes prototype, other digital technologies such as AI-assisted site planning, smart home and digital tools and other new materials will be exhibited.

Also exhibiting will be F&T Terrix, Ambion Heating and HAHN Plastics, which have provided mould-resistant plaster and render, infra-red heating and outdoor furniture made from recycled plastic respectively for the prototype.

Prof Will Swan, director of Energy House Labs, said: “This type of project is exactly what our unique Energy House 2.0 facility was built for. Vector Homes is an ambitious, innovative north west company and if we can help them to develop a new product which can provide cheap, safe and, most importantly, warm housing, then there will be huge benefits.”


Elliot Vure, director of corporate sales at Together, said: “We’ve been incredibly impressed with Vector’s vision to provide quality, sustainable and affordable housing, made from innovative materials.

“The prototype building that Vector has produced is a fantastic example of researchers and the private sector working in partnership, and we believe that Vector’s low-carbon, rapid-build homes can go some way to providing a solution to some of the UK’s future housing challenges.”