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Feed-In Tariffs are here now, but are they just another way in which the middle classes can use their houses to generate cash? Not necessarily: we’re involved in a project that shows the  real social potential of Feed-in Tariffs.

We recently received funding from the Technology Strategy Board to trial a system that will enable people who are in fuel poverty – that is, who spend 10 per cent or more of their disposable income on fuel – to get involved with Feed-in Tariffs.

The project – SHIMMER – will provide low-income, fuel-poor households with solar photovoltaic panels, and pay for the kit with the revenue generated by Feed-in Tariffs.

The solar panels are likely to generate more electricity than is needed by the household, so those taking part will be able to make a bit of money if they are careful with their energy use. Any energy left over after repayments on the solar panels will be sold to the national grid, and under the Feed-In Tariffs the money will be paid into a PayPal account, for them to spend on other things.

To help people with this, we – along with partners London Rebuilding Society and Easy Town – are giving participants smart energy management tools so they can monitor the energy they use in their homes on their phone or computer.

So: free fuel (reducing their fuel poverty), detailed control of their energy use, greater disposable income and a stake in the low-carbon economy.

Now, that IS gold!

Our first households will be getting their kit installed soon. Stay tuned to see how they get on.