Biomass project helping tackle fuel poverty is in the running for national award

Westward logoA renewable heating project that is helping to tackle fuel poverty for some of the most vulnerable households in north Devon has been shortlisted for a prestigious national award.

Energy efficiency expert Anesco has worked with social housing landlord Westward Housing Group on the initiative, which it is claimed could help hundreds of thousands of households if it were to be replicated nationwide.

The project is now in the running to be named Community Heating Project of the Year as part of the Heating & Renewable Awards 2015.

Through the scheme, 75 tenant properties have been upgraded from an oil-based heating system to a state-of-the-art biomass boiler. The new 18kW pellet boilers are providing all the heating and hot water the tenants need, generating a saving per household of up to 30% on annual energy bills.

The new boilers are also helping to reduce the housing association’s carbon emissions by around 400 tonnes per year.

The boilers have been supplied and fitted at no cost through Anesco’s investor-funded biomass scheme. The cost of each installation will be recouped by Anesco through RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive) payments, a Government incentive scheme introduced promote the use of renewable energy.

The installations and all ongoing maintenance is being carried out by locally-based teams, with the pellets also being sourced locally, creating long-term employment opportunities for the area.

“We’re delighted to be shortlisted for this award and that the positive impact this project is having for the wider community, as well as households facing fuel poverty, has been recognised,” commented Adrian Pike, Anesco CEO.

“We have demonstrated a simple model that could be replicated by other social landlords across the UK to the benefit of hundreds of thousands of households. It was completed in just a few weeks and has had an instant impact.”

Nigel Barnard, director of operations at Westward Housing Group, said: “Helping our tenants to cope with erratic and often high energy costs, while reducing our carbon emissions is of the upmost importance to us. Through this scheme we have been able to do that and we are seeking to help many households out of fuel poverty.”

He added: “The project has had a positive impact on so many levels. Tenants on low incomes had previously struggled to meet the cost of refilling the oil tank, now they can buy pellets in small quantities when they need it, in a way that better suits their budgets.

“Additionally the project has improved the living environment as tenants have more space in their kitchens, due to the removal of the old boiler and more space in their gardens following the removal of the oil tank.”

The winners of the Heating & Renewable Awards 2015 will be announced at an awards ceremony being held on Thursday 10 September at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.