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Julie James, Minister for Climate Change, Paula Kennedy, Chief Executive Melin Homes-3

Wallpaper that heats homes among innovative projects trialled in Wales to tackle climate change and the cost of living crisis

Papur wal sy’n cynhesu’r cartref ymhlith y prosiectau arloesol sy’n cael eu treialu yng Nghymru i daclo’r newid yn yr hinsawdd a’r argyfwng costau byw

A social housing development in Wales is being heated by wallpaper as part of a trial exploring affordable alternatives to radiators and heat pumps to keep residents warm.

The graphene heat system, which looks and feels just like traditional wallpaper, can be plugged into a domestic socket, and is packaged with solar panels and a smart battery, meaning it cuts emissions while vastly lowering fuel costs.

Installed on walls, ceilings or under floors, the technology is invisible to residents and provides an innovative method to warm individual rooms much more quickly, offering them the chance to manage their energy budgets more effectively.

NexGen’s Graphene Infrared Heating is one of a number of innovate trials being carried out by housing association Melin Homes thanks to funding through the Welsh Government’s Optimised RetroFit Programme.

On a visit to the project in Tredegar, Climate Change Minister Julie James said:

“The decarbonisation of homes plays a big part in our journey to a Net Zero Wales by 2050.

“At a time when costs are rising, improving the energy efficiency of homes will not only help us to deal with the climate emergency but also help families through the cost of living crisis.

“Just a little over a year ago, the First Minister put the environment and climate change at the heart of the Welsh Government’s priorities and, as we work to build a stronger, greener and fairer Wales, I’m really excited by the prospect innovative products like these could offer in helping us achieve our ambition.”

The system, which uses a combination of far infrared and convection heat takes just two to three days to install and is much more cost-effective when compared with a heat pump.

Melin Homes has collaborated with Swansea University who verified the performance of the technology. It is now in discussions with a range of other registered social landlords, and local authorities who have shown an interest in the trial of the radiant heat system. 

The Welsh Government Department for Economy is also working with Torfaen County Borough Council and NexGen to explore opportunities for the firm to establish a manufacturing centre in the local area.

Paula Kennedy, Chief Executive of Melin Homes said:

“Our residents are already feeling the impact of the cost of living crisis and climate emergency that’s why we have set an ambitious target to become a NetZero organisation before 2050.

“We know we have to act now, so we have teamed up with Nexgen and our housing association peers in a bid to find alternatives to heating our homes that will be greener and cheaper for people to use. 

“We will continue to work with them and trial new technologies that will help our residents, and residents throughout Wales.  We are also pleased to be a part of the inward investment in setting up a factory and look forward to seeing the opportunities that will bring to Wales.”

Notes to editors

Optimised RetroFit (ORP) is a whole house, pragmatic, approach to decarbonising existing homes. It is far more sophisticated and bespoke than previous schemes. It takes into account the fabric or materials homes are made from and the way we heat and store energy. It also takes into account how energy reaches our homes.

It is open to Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) and local authorities (LAs) to install a variety of home decarbonisation measures in existing social housing stock.

The Welsh Government made £19.5m available to five schemes in 2020/21. Four of these were from local authorities with one from consortium involving 27 social housing providers across Wales.

The Welsh Government has committed £50m of funding for 2022/23, and a further £50m pa for 2023/24 and for 2024/25.  This multi-year funding provides much needed certainty for those involved in the retrofitting of homes, allowing them to plan a future pipeline of work.

NextGen’s Graphene Infrared Heating system is not currently available to purchase as single home systems but could be available to the wider public in future, once the social housing trials are complete.