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ThermCERT: turning up the heat on fuel poverty

Astrosat demonstrating the first ThermCERT prototype. Photograph: E.ON

Energy supplier E.ON has been working with the European Space Agency and Earth observation specialist Astrosat to develop ThermCERT, a thermal efficiency reporting tool to pinpoint where energy-efficiency measures are needed most across the UK. The system could turn out to be a game-changer for reducing energy costs and improving efficiency, especially when it comes to heat loss in vulnerable homes. 

What is fuel poverty? 

Households with above-average energy costs whose income falls below the official poverty line once they’ve paid their energy bills are considered to be in ‘fuel poverty’. The UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy estimates that England had about 2.55 million such households in 2016.

Addressing this issue can be challenging, however, as at-risk households are not always easy to identify. Traditional energy efficiency monitoring programmes rely on door-knocking or bulk mailings to contact customers and identify their needs. 

Empowered by Space

ThermCERT could transform the way energy efficiency is mapped in the future.  Using a combination of satellite and Earth based data,  ThermCERT understands the demographics of cities and communities, from social vulnerability to the quality of the built structures. The local area insights are described at the same granularity all over the UK and help deliver improvements to the households that are most affected. 



This innovative tool is set to pack a powerful socio-economic punch by: improving housing condition and insulation, increasing energy efficiency, and reducing energy costs. The software can also be applied to other critical health and environmental issues such as air quality, traffic congestion and carbon emissions. 

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said: “This government-backed technology could boldly go where no technician in a van has gone before, with the potential to pinpoint households in fuel poverty or those at risk”. 

Fraser Hamilton, Chief Operating Officer at Astrosat: “We’ve applied our technical knowledge to E.ON’s wealth of experience with local authorities and ESA’s space acumen to create something truly unique that will add real value to the UK energy market.”

Michael Lewis, E.ON’s UK Chief Executive, said: “Delivered on the doorstep but driven by big data gathered from Earth orbit, our work with Astrosat, in collaboration with ESA, is about using the almost endless possibilities of space to deliver real benefits on the ground.”  

Nick Appleyard, Head of the Downstream Business Applications Department at the European Space Agency, added: “Our Business Applications programme is dedicated to supporting space-enhanced services with two objectives: to generate growth for the industrial partners, and to benefit society at large. ThermCERT checks both of these boxes. We have a two-pronged approach to supporting the green energy revolution. Initiatives like ThermCERT show how space assets can help to reduce costs and improve energy efficiency in existing neighbourhoods. In parallel, we are open to proposals for space services that help to create Green Neighbourhoods by improving their initial design.”


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22 November 2018
Last updated at 22 November 2018 - 12:43