Awareness week set to celebrate renewable ways to end fuel poverty

The Great Big Green Week (10th – 18th June) is a UK-wide celebration of community action to tackle climate change. 

While the energy industry lobbies for the continuation of oil and gas, including opposing the Windfall Tax on excess energy firm profits which is used to tackle fuel poverty, experts have predicted that renewable energy sources completely replacing fossil fuels by 2050 will save trillions of dollars globally.

Labour has announced plans to block all new oil and gas development in the North Sea if they are elected, in a move which has been welcomed by 139 organisations including the End Fuel Poverty Coalition. These organisations have signed an open letter to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer urging him not to U-turn on this policy, citing the importance of investing in renewables in ensuring that the UK has secure access to affordable and green sources of energy. 

The Government is also examining how best to reform of electricity marketing and pricing which calculates how electricity costs are determined. Currently, costs per unit are calculated by “marginal pricing”, meaning that the price per unit (kWh) of electricity is determined by the last energy source delivered onto the grid to meet demand in any given half hour period. In practice, this is often determined by the cost of energy from expensive gas power stations, rather than cheaper renewables. 

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition responded to this consultation by urging the government to unlink the cost of energy from gas prices, and better factor in renewable energy to help mitigate price volatility and drive energy bills down.  

Community schemes are becoming vital ways to promote renewables at a local level. One such scheme is Net Zero Now in South Cambridgeshire, which is a free training programme for local residents. The scheme is designed to support individuals to act on climate change in their community, and consists of six weekly workshops where attendees learn from each other to deliver effective carbon reduction activities, events and communications. Local schemes such as this one are being celebrated during Great Big Green Week, as it has been found that these programmes help to lower emissions and restore nature within communities. 

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition commented:

“The Great Big Green Week asks us to think about what inspires us to tackle climate change and protect nature. For millions of people, the answer is that tackling climate change is also how we end fuel poverty in the long run. We already have solutions ready to do this. For example, reforming the energy grid and adopting renewable energy sources will contribute to the achievement of net zero, but would also mean more affordable bills. Additionally, improving our homes to be more energy efficient could reduce heating bills by 20%.

Majority of Brits oppose hydrogen heating trials

Just 15% of surveyed Brits would choose to take part in hydrogen heating trials, with almost three in five rejecting the idea outright, according to a new poll, commissioned by the Warm this Winter campaign.

It comes as parliamentarians continue to discuss the passage of the government-backed Energy Bill that would legislate for the creation of trial “hydrogen villages” at proposed towns, including Whitby and Redcar in the north of England.

Residents in both towns have voiced concerns about being forced to take part amidst warnings of long-term extra cost and heightened risk of explosion. These were also concerns topping a list of worries respondents to the poll have about hydrogen heating.

Just under half said they are concerned about the fact that hydrogen is four times as explosive as gas, and (46%) said they were worried that it could add costs to bills.

Cornwall Insight found that hydrogen could add on average 70% to bills from 2025. Home appliances will also have to be changed to accept this new fuel, with cautious estimates suggesting it would cost approximately £171 billion to convert appliances and infrastructure to hydrogen across the UK.

A recent Global Witness briefing pointed out that as well as issues over cost and risk, hydrogen will also do nothing to help the climate crisis, despite industry attempts to paint hydrogen heating as a climate solution.

While the Government is trying to reintroduce a levy on customer bills to pay for hydrogen projects in the Energy Bill being debated by MPs, just 3% of poll respondents would want to see hydrogen heating paid for through energy bills. Over two thirds (67%) wanting energy companies to foot the bill for any costs related to hydrogen heating.

Alice Harrison, Fossil Fuels Campaign Leader at Global Witness, which is part of the Warm This Winter campaign, said:

“This polling makes it fundamentally clear that the fossil fuel industry is losing its battle to hoodwink the public into thinking hydrogen heating is a worthy solution to either the climate or energy crisis. People are rightly concerned about the risk of explosion and associated costs, particularly as hydrogen heating will not stop climate breakdown – in fact it could worsen it.”

“The absolute hammer blow for hydrogen heating is that, given the choice, the majority of people surveyed would reject taking part in the trials. Add this to the wave of opposition at proposed trial sites, any government pursuing this reckless agenda would be at best out of touch, at worst running foul of democracy. Hydrogen heating has no place in the Energy Bill.”

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition commented:

 “Hydrogen is not the solution to keeping people warm in the winter. Used in the home it is explosive, expensive and damaging to the environment as it is currently produced.

“MPs should keep in mind how unpopular this policy is with the public who can ill afford any more unnecessary increases to their energy bills.”