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How 'green' energy is lifting more Newham households out of fuel poverty

PUBLISHED: 10:00 04 May 2019 | UPDATED: 11:22 04 May 2019

Adjusting the thermostat in a 'green energy' home under the government's 'Energy Company Obligation' scheme. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA

Adjusting the thermostat in a 'green energy' home under the government's 'Energy Company Obligation' scheme. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA

PA Archive/PA Images

A growing number of families are being lifted out of 'fuel poverty' as more Newham households are switching to renewable 'green' energy and cutting carbon emissions.

More than 1,000 energy efficiency upgrades were installed in the 12 months to December, latest figures from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy show.

This was a rise of 28 per cent compared to the previous year—which bucks the national trend where numbers are falling.

Almost 9,600 measures have been installed in more than 8,000 Newham households since the government's 'energy company obligation' scheme was launched in 2013.

This means 73 in every 1,000 households in the area have benefitted from at least one measure.

But campaigners have warned of an average slowdown across the country, where installations have fallen to their lowest level in six years.

There were only 12,500 improvements made to homes across the country in February, the latest national figures show.

This is a fall of 33pc compared to the same period in 2013, and 84pc lower than its peak of 76,500 in 2014.

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It's a worrying trend for National Energy Action, the anti-fuel poverty charity.

Solar panels catching the sun's energy to heat up an east London housing estate off the A13. Picture: Poplar HarcaSolar panels catching the sun's energy to heat up an east London housing estate off the A13. Picture: Poplar Harca

“The scheme in isolation is not sufficient to meet statutory fuel poverty commitments,” the charity's Peter Smith said. “It's hugely worrying that the rate of home energy efficiency improvements continues to slow dramatically.”

The charity wants to see new investment to tackle fuel poverty in the upcoming government spending review, which would also improve air quality in places like east London and reduce health and social care costs.

Energy suppliers are required to provide eligible households with free fuel saving measures such as loft installations or replacing inefficient boilers, under the scheme.

Thousands of homes across east London were selected by the GLA to join a London-wide programme to install solar panels and roof insulation two years before the national scheme was started, aimed at cutting consumption and reducing electricity and gas bills.

The programme was started in Newham, then spread to the neighbouring boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Barking & Dagenham and Waltham Forest, which included housing association tenants getting cheap electricity from solar panels.

Newham Council voted earlier this month to pledge to make the borough 'carbon neutral' by 2030 and 'carbon zero' by 2050. Among the measures called for are a 'green audit' of all council services, providing air quality monitoring devices to schools and scrapping 'single use' plastics from council buildings.

It is part of a national commitment to reduce Britain's greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, switching to 'sustainable natural sources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, plants, algae and even geo-thermal heat. Renewable energy can replace finite stocks of fossil fuels used in generating electricity, mains water supply and motor vehicles fuel.

Hydropower is currently the largest green energy producer, accounting for 70pc of Britain's renewable energy demands. Energy from the Sun is another common green energy, using rooftop solar panels.

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