People’s Energy
Area of Work:
Energy Efficiency, Green Communities
Region: UK
Awards Year: The 2024

Energise Barnsley is lowering bills for older people in social housing, using the power of solar energy.

The organisation was set up by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, to support community clean energy projects in and around the Yorkshire town. This includes working with housing provider Berneslai Homes and charity Age UK to install new technology in hundreds of social housing properties, many occupied by older residents.

Energise Barnsley has installed solar panels on 321 council-owned homes and recently added battery systems in 75 of these properties. Residents in these homes, who are all over 50, can now store the energy they generate, and use it when doing so will deliver the biggest savings. Smart tech like this makes financial sense, but the installation costs often price out lower income households.

In area where 19% of people find it challenging to afford their fuel bills, Energise Barnsley have lowered fuel costs by up to 50% – sharing the benefits of the UK’s energy revolution. The battery project has supported residents who are retired, a carer, or have a disability. All these groups are more likely to spend time at home, so help with fuel bills is particularly important.

Age UK have supported residents through the scheme with face-to-face visits. These included giving advice on how to manage their energy use and bills electronically. And the housing association’s own electricians have been trained to install and maintain the technology.

Why is Ashden boosting this solution?

In the last few years, government policy changes have made it harder to bring solar energy to low-income communities. So this innovation is more important than ever. The Ashden judges praised it for bringing modern, integrated technologies to social housing, and also for supporting local jobs and training.

Its success shows the power of a great partnership: one that draws on the strengths of communities, councils, housing associations and other important stakeholders.

For more information on Energise Barnsley, click here.

Check out the rest of our fantastic winners from the 2024 Ashden Awards here.

Collection of photos of the 2024 Ashden Award winner Energise Barnsley. Starting from the top left is a lady smiling at the camera with solar panels behind her. Two men holding batteries smiling at the camera. A man replacing tungsten lights with LED lights. Two men replacing tungsten lights with LED lights. Two women talking to one another outside a home with solar panels on the roof.
Starting from the top left is Margaret Andrew, a micro investor in the Energise Barnsley scheme to install solar panels on her children’s ex school. On the right-hand side, two men replacing tungsten lights with energy-efficient LED lights at the Penistone Bowling Club. Below are men replacing tungsten lights with LED lights. The last photo is Berneslai Housing Association Project Liaison Officer, Louise Wood with resident Elaine Marsh, Willows, Oxspring, Barnsley.

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