Decentralised systems and fuel poverty: Are there any links or risks?
This paper considers the possible links between the development of decentralised or distributed energy systems and the problem of fuel poverty in the UK. The discussion takes on board that decentralised energy systems can take many different forms, in the range of potential technologies that can be used for the local microgeneration of electricity and heat and in the range of ways in which the installation, ownership, operation, networking and maintenance of these technologies can be organised [Walker, G., Cass, N., 2007. Carbon reduction, ‘the public’ and renewable energy: engaging with sociotechnical configurations. Area 39(4), 458–469; Watson, J., Sauter, R., Bahaj, B., James, A., Myers, L., Wing, R., 2006. Unlocking the Power House: Policy and System Change for Domestic Microgeneration in the UK. SPRU, Brighton]. The focus is on housing and, in particular, on those forms of housing occupied by social groups vulnerable to fuel poverty. Both potential negative links (or risks) and positive links between decentralised generation and fuel poverty are considered. As this is a new area, there is comparatively little literature to draw on and there are significant gaps in knowledge, so some of the discussion is necessarily rather speculative.