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Housing associations leading investment against fuel poverty

Housing associations and co-operatives across the country are turning to renewable energy in a bid to tackle fuel poverty, according to industry body the Scottish Federation for Housing Associations (SFHA).

The trend comes as housing providers seek to meet rising energy-efficiency standards for social housing, having already invested in measures such as loft and cavity wall insulation and solar panels to help reduce tenants’ energy bills.

Many are now investigating the viability of other low carbon options including biomass, which can provide heating for entire housing schemes whilst generating income in the form of the UK government’s Renewable Heat Incentive.

The SFHA is holding an energy and renewables exchange in Glasgow this week (13 February), enabling housing providers to learn more about the options available to them, and hear from those who have already invested in low carbon solutions for their housing stock.

SFHA policy manager David Stewart said: “In recent years, above inflation increases in energy prices has meant that fuel poverty has been on the increase.

“The problem is particularly acute in areas that do not have access to mains gas, as other forms of heating such as oil and LPG are more expensive.

“Renewable heating technologies provide an opportunity to provide a more affordable and environmentally friendly solution to tenants, and the Renewable Heat Incentive will provide funding to help support these technologies.

“We believe the event is an important opportunity for associations to share their knowledge and learn about renewables.”

Event Sponsor HWEnergy is currently working on a feasibility project with Aberdeen-based Castlehill Housing Association. Castlehill aims to reduce heating costs for tenants, reduce its carbon emissions and its dependence on oil at one of its sheltered housing developments.

It also wants its new system to become self-financing in the longer term, justifying the capital investment.

HWEnergy has calculated that the potential project could lead to savings of over £5000 on heating costs per year whilst generating an annual income of almost £25,000 from RHI.

As a result, the system would pay back the capital investment in just over seven years, delivering a positive income for around 12 years thereafter.

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