WElink Energy and BSR Team up with Chinese Building Firm in a £1.1bn Deal

In a major boost for the UK's green housing sector, WElink Energy yesterday announced a new £1.1bn deal with China National Building Materials (CNBM) to develop thousands of zero-carbon homes in the UK.

In what will be seen as a massive coup for the green building industry after the government scrapped the zero-carbon homes standard last year, the deal will deliver at least 8,000 new zero-carbon, affordable homes to the UK market.

WElink and CNBMS's low-cost housing solution - branded Barcelona Housing Systems (BHS) - consists of pre-engineered apartment blocks designed by Barcelona-based architects Cesar Martinell & Associates.

The apartment buildings are zero-carbon, zero-waste and water-efficient buildings, and developments are kitted with rooftop solar panels, energy storage and waste-to-energy technologies. British Solar Renewables (BSR) has been contracted to install the solar and energy storage technologies for the UK projects.

While the deal is to initially provide 8,000 new homes in the UK, Barry O'Neill, chief executive of WElink, said the BHS housing solution could be rolled out on a larger scale if demand proves high.

"Given the scalability of our BHS solution and the near-zero energy buildings that are constructed in combination with the engineering, financial and strategic support of our Chinese partners, we believe we can expand rapidly to fulfil the appetite for the development of affordable housing in the UK," he said in a statement.

CNBM and WElink have initially committed £800m to deliver the first 8,000 BHS housing units in the UK. The first phase of development - delivering 4,000 units - is scheduled for completion in 2018, with at least 4,000 more homes to follow.

WElink and CNBM are already working together to deliver more than 30,000 BHS homes in Spain, Croatia and Chile.

Angus MacDonald, managing director at British Solar Renewables , said the announcement was "tremendous news". "The opportunity could not be better timed in terms of the government's goals, our country's low-carbon policy commitment and our growing need for more affordable homes," he said. "It will create a significant number of jobs in the development of this next generation of energy-efficient housing".