€2m to research energy efficiency

Published: Fri, 1 Feb 2019
Partner organisations at the launch of the Handi-Heat Project
We’ve been awarded €2m to fund research that will tackle fuel poverty, identify renewable energy solutions and improve energy efficiency in rural homes across Northern Europe.
The ‘Handi- Heat’ project, which is run over 3 years, will look at developing a series of resources for government policy makers on sustainable energy solutions for rural communities.
It is being led by us, with support from the Northern Periphery & Arctic Programme (NPA) and the European Regional Development Fund, and aims to:
•document current home energy policy and practice across Northern Europe;
•develop viable business models with innovative solutions to tackle energy problems in rural areas;
•identify opportunities for rural communities to access renewable energy sources and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.
At the launch event in Belfast Castle, Dr Michael McBride, Chief Medical Officer for Northern Ireland said:
“Fuel poverty is a long-standing health issue, recognised for many years by researchers, medical professionals and policy makers alike.  The link between living in cold, damp conditions and a number of illnesses, including poor mental health, respiratory disease and premature mortality has long been accepted.  
I welcome this innovative project and I look forward to hearing how it evolves over the coming months.”
Our Chief Executive, Clark Bailie, explains how we are involved in the project:
“Handi – Heat is a fantastic opportunity for us to collaborate with a range of organisations from the Republic of Ireland, Finland, Iceland and the Shetland Islands to find solutions to problems faced by rural householders such as a reliance on home heating oil.
“We will also be upgrading and providing four of our homes in Fermanagh with a renewable energy supply so we can find out how these measures could benefit our rural tenants.”