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Trust funds study to help families heat homes.

A MAJOR research grant from eaga Charitable Trust, set up by green support services provider eaga, is funding a study to find out how renewable energy can tackle fuel poverty.

The trust was set up in 1993 and the company has donated more than pounds 3.2m to it. Understanding how vulnerable households can benefit from clean energy is seen as especially relevant following the recent publication of the Government's low-carbon transition plan, which plots a path to cutting the UK's C02 emissions by 80%.

The research will be conducted by Dr Fin O'Flaherty of the Centre for Infrastructure Management in the Materials and Engineering Research Institute at Sheffield Hallam University, and Dr James Pinder of Positive Sum Ltd.

Dr O'Flaherty said: "Binding targets to cut C02 emissions will encourage and, in many cases, incentivise all of us to adopt more low-carbon lifestyles. How we heat our homes is key to this - but there is a risk that vulnerable households get left behind as the rest of us make the switch. This research will therefore consider how technologies such as solar thermal hot water and heat pumps can make home heating more sustainable and affordable for this customer base. It's really about asking how we can make going green socially inclusive."

The project will collect highly detailed analysis over the next two years of the energy generation and consumption data of two groups of houses which will be fitted with renewable energy technologies.

This will be used to determine the impact of renewable energy options on fuel poverty and the ability of low-income households to have satisfactory heating.

Government advisory body the Fuel Poverty Advisory Group has recently warned that rising unemployment and higher energy prices are pushing more people into fuel poverty, in which they spend more than 10% of household income on heating.

Dr Naomi Brown, trust manager for the eaga CT, said: "At a time when the number of fuel-poor households is rising and has now reached four million in England, it is essential that we gain a better understanding of how renewable technologies can help alleviate fuel poverty.

"This research will provide a clearer picture of which forms of renewables represent the best value for money for alleviating fuel poverty, and we are very pleased to provide funding." The eaga CT makes grants to support research into relief of fuel poverty and promotion of energy efficiency among vulnerable consumers.

This year, it has agreed on funding in excess of pounds 275,000 for a variety of research projects, including pounds 97,000 on this renewable energy study.


NORTH FUND Dr Finn O'Flaherty and James Pinder will research how green technology can help low-income households escape fuel poverty.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 18, 2009
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