Energy improvements to South Shields homes to lift residents out of fuel poverty

Energy efficient Tarran Newland property Tarran Newland property on completion of improvement work –
Image from left to right – Dave Cutting (STH), Chris Jones (STH), Beryl Chapman (Marsden resident), Chris Noble (STH) and Andrew Tipping (Narec)

Residents from Marsden, South Shields have this week opened their newly refurbished homes to show-off energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy technologies, installed as part of a collaborative £1.9m European Regional Development Funded (ERDF) Project.

A total of 136 ‘Tarran Newland’ – non-traditional construction – socially rented, post-war properties, managed by South Tyneside Homes are planned for improvements in South Shields. To date, 51 homes have been fitted with PV panels, loft and external wall insulation, and energy efficiency boilers as part of measures which are estimated to deliver heating savings of up to £800 per year and electricity bill savings of £200 per year for residents.

Lincoln Road and Marsden Lane in South Shields is one of three areas benefitting from the ERDF project being managed by the National Renewable Energy Centre. 3 high-rise blocks of flats in Jarrow, Tyne and Wear and 54 Homes for Northumberland properties, in Blyth, Northumberland have also been selected for energy efficiency improvements and are being fitted with solid wall insulation, smart meters and secondary heat exchangers.

Beryl Chapman, a Marsden resident from South Shields said, “The external wall insulation which has been fitted has really improved the look and feel of my home. I am also noticing a reduction in my energy bills since the improvements have been made; this is because the house is so well insulated I don’t need to have the central heating turned on very often. The house is much warmer and more comfortable to live in too.”

The project aims to lift local residents out of fuel poverty, while reducing carbon emissions and improving the quality of life of residents.

Mark Whittle, Director of Investment, South Tyneside Homes said,

“ERDF funding is helping to take hundreds of vulnerable families out of fuel poverty. This project is part of long-term investments being made by South Tyneside Homes to provide more cost-efficient homes for tenants.”

“The Decent Homes improvement work to non-traditional homes is one of our biggest and most challenging programmes. The feedback that we have had from tenants is very positive, not just about the new internal improvements, but also how the external work has improved the thermal efficiency of their homes. We were delighted to show representatives from Narec and other companies the examples of best practice and partnership working we are adopting, and how the on-going works have improved people’s lives, as well as estates.”

The effectiveness of modifications and their impacts on the behaviour of residents such as the energy required to heat a home to an adequate level and the number of residents lifted out of fuel poverty are being monitored and the data analysed by the National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec). This greater understanding will help to inform future improvements in relation to the performance and utilisation of low carbon, innovative energy products as well as how best to apply low carbon products in socially rented prefabricated properties.

Helen Hampson, Microrenewables ERDF Project Manager, Narec explains,

“The data is being collected over a 2 year timeframe to provide greater knowledge of the impact of these microgeneration technologies and efficiency improvements in improving the existing housing stock and this learning will be applicable to social landlords, local authorities and private homeowners. This project also relates to the soon to be launched Coalition Government’s flagship Green Deal project which encourages improvements to be made to properties which will save energy and reduce costs. Both initiatives will make a significant improvement to the energy efficiency of North East homes and help tenants to make substantial energy savings.”

As part of the project local businesses are also being given the opportunity to visit the properties so they can see first-hand the houses at various stages of development and improvements being made. It is hoped that this will help to generate a greater understanding of new technologies and their application and encourage more businesses to expand or diversify into the microgeneration and low carbon technology market.

The project will benefit from £1.9m of investment from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government. The ERDF Competitiveness Programme 2007-2013 is bringing over £300m into the North East to support innovation, enterprise and business support across the region.

Notes to editor

The Project

The National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) is working in collaboration with South Tyneside Homes and Homes for Northumberland to make energy efficiency housing improvements in over 300 socially rented hard-to-treat properties.

The total value of the investment which includes ERDF and match funding provided by South Tyneside Homes and Homes for Northumberland is £3.83m. The ERDF funding received was to install low carbon and renewable energy technologies and systems into selected properties helping to improve the housing stock in the region and regenerate off-gas or non-traditional construction properties. The impacts of the interventions are also being monitored and analysed as part of the project.

As Project Manager, Narec is responsible for delivering the following:

  • Management of cash flows and outputs, project claims and payments;
  • Facilitation of joint procurement activity;
  • Product testing and monitoring;
  • Dissemination of project outcomes;
  • SME engagement;
  • Delivery of capacity building and skills activity with SMEs.

Project completion date is November 2013 with project outcomes expected to include:

  • Retrofit of low carbon products in over 300 properties;
  • Reduction of fuel poverty for residents in over 300 properties;
  • SME assistance to improve skills development and performance;
  • Jobs created and safeguarded.

The analysis of the data collection and reports on the impacts of the interventions will be published in the pre-works report on the 31st August 2012.

The Green Deal

The Green Deal will provide support to homeowners who cannot achieve significant energy savings without an additional or different measure of support. Under the Green Deal there is no need to pay upfront for energy efficiency measures and instead the cost of the measures should be covered by savings on the electricity bill. For further information visit:

South Tyneside Homes

South Tyneside Homes (STH) is an arms-length management organisation (ALMO) which manages the housing service on behalf of South Tyneside Council.

STH manages 18,949 homes through a Board that is made up of four tenants, four council nominees and four independents. The day-to-day running of the company is delegated to a senior management team, headed by a Chief Executive. It manages the Council’s Housing Revenue Account budget of £45.5m and £14.7m capital programme budget. It receives an annual management fee of £9.2m to manage homes on behalf of the Council.

STH are part of the ERDF Social Housing Energy Management project consortium with Homes for Northumberland and Narec.

Homes for Northumberland

Homes for Northumberland manage Council housing stock in the former Blyth Valley Housing and Alnwick District Council areas.
Homes for Northumberland manage homes on behalf of Northumberland County Council under the terms of a formal Management Agreement.

This agreement sets out the functions and the standards of service that are to be provided. Tenants and leaseholders living in the homes which the company manages are tenants or leaseholders of the Council.

Homes for Northumberland are part of the ERDF Social Housing Energy Management project consortium with South Tyneside Homes and Narec.


For further information please contact Helen Edge, Marketing Executive, Narec.
Email –
Tel – 01670 357602

ERDF Funding

Narec has formed a consortium with South Tyneside Homes and Homes for Northumberland to deliver this project.

The project will benefit from £1.9m of investment from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government. The ERDF Competitiveness Programme 2007-2013 is bringing over £300m into the North East to support innovation, enterprise and business support across the region.

European Regional Development Fund logo
STH logo HfN logo

Renewable energy training for the unemployed

Closing ceremonyDelegates trained by Decerna

Forty unemployed residents from across Newcastle City have received training to help them to secure employment in the growing renewable energy sector.

The project, supported by Newcastle Science City and Newcastle City Council, received funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to develop transferable skills in microgeneration to ensure local jobs are created and sustained in green economy.

Decerna, part of the UK’s National Renewable Energy Centre, in partnership with Newcastle Warm Zone managed and delivered the training to skilled and semi-skilled unemployed technicians interested in up-skilling, diversifying and gaining knowledge of new microrenewable technology systems.

Decerna conducted a training needs analysis to decide the most appropriate and flexible training programme tailored to suit the learners’ individual needs. Trainees chose from a variety of accredited courses which included; working at height, PV installation, solar thermal installation and systems maintenance.

The training provided the learners with the opportunity to gain qualifications which are highly regarded by employers in the field of microgeneration. Ian Wilson, qualified Gas Engineer said:

“The training we have received has been first class and I’m hopeful that the experience and qualifications that I’ve gained as a result of completing this training will help me in my search for employment.”

A number of trainees who successfully completed the course have already gone on to secure employment in the area of renewable energy. Newcastle Science City hopes to build on the project achievements thus far, helping more citizens to develop their expertise and skills in this new and emerging market.

Nick Powell, Community Engagement Officer, Newcastle Science City said:

“We must effectively work together to integrate and coordinate this funding and use it to help create and sustain as many local jobs as we can, with local people designing, supplying, installing and maintaining a range of renewable technologies in domestic and commercial properties.”

This project complements and coordinates renewable energy activities across the city to ensure we take advantage of the new opportunities arising in this area. Narec is providing energy master planning to Newcastle City Council to develop and agree a sustainable energy action plan and a citywide climate change strategy, to deliver regeneration and help drive forward the delivery of low carbon and affordable energy schemes.

Simon Johnson, Energy Manager, Newcastle City Council said:

“Decerna has been instrumental in helping the Council pull together an innovative and practical Energy Master Plan that can help underpin more green investment and jobs in the Newcastle area.”

For further information on the range of funded and commercial training offered by Decerna please check


European Regional Development Fund logo
Warm Zone Newcastle logo     Newcastle Science City logo     Newcastle City Council logo

Decerna launch new renewable energy website


At Decerna we have now launched our own website.

We are part of the UK’s National Renewable Energy Centre, a world leading centre for all renewable and low carbon technologies. This website is dedicated to the substantial work which Decerna carry out in renewable and low carbon technologies, particularly in the built environment.

We carry out a range of services on a range of different renewable and low carbon technologies, using our dedicated team within Decerna, and also using staff from the wider National Renewable Energy Centre.

To see a selection of the project we have work on (or are currently working on) please have a look at the case study section of this website:

To see the latest news from Decerna, please subscribe to the RSS for our news section, and to our twitter at @NarecDE

We thank 21Inspired for the quick and professional website which they created

Solar panels installed on ship for low carbon cargo ship research project

Photovoltaic system on a cargo shipPhotovoltaic system on a cargo ship

A Renewable Energy MSc student working with Decerna and Newcastle University has installed a system on a Sterna Carrier cargo ship to measure levels of energy photovoltaics can gain from reflect light from the sea.

Matt Pitt has designed, built and install the systems as part of his Renewable Energy MSc project at the University of Newcastle. The system includes pv modules on either side of the ship, and a horizontal module with pyronometer at the top of the ship.

The system is installed on a Sterna Carrier which sails from Harwich to Rotterdam twice daily.

This work will give valuable data and understanding for work which Decerna and Newcastle University are currently undertaking for systems on low carbon  cargo ships, including the FP7 funded project Inomanship.

World leading algae biofuel project launched

Algae for biofulesAlgae for biofuels created at the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI)

Three major algae biofuel projects have been launched by the European Union as part of the Algae Cluster this May. Each of them intends to build a 10ha (25 acre) facility to produce biofuel from algae in different ways. These will be the largest algae biofuel facilities in Europe.

The particular project Decerna is involved in is called InteSusAl, the full name of which is “Demonstration of integrated and sustainable cultivation with biodiesel validation”. The project will run until the 31st of October 2015.

The InteSusAl project will optimise the whole microalgae production chain to achieve algae cultivation targets of 90- 120 dry tonnes per hectare per annum.
The project will use the glycerine by-product from biodiesel to feed the heterotrophic system, which will allow maximum recovery of carbon from the glycerine while producing algal oil for use in further biodiesel production. The partners expect to demonstrate a virtually closed loop system for carbon usage. Life-Cycle Assessment will be used during the design phase to guide the best overall options to maximise sustainability, as well as to compare the InteSusAl approach with other algae projects, fossil fuels and biofuels.

As well as Decerna, The InteSusAl consortium is composed of the following partners:

  • Centre for Process Innovation (UK)
  • Necton (Portugal)
  • NIOZ (Netherlands)
  • DLO-FBR (Netherlands)
  • European Renewable Energy Research Centres Agency (Belgium)

For more information on the project, contact: Paola Mazzucchelli, EUREC Agency, rue d’Arlon 63-65, 1040 Brussels, Belgium Tel: 0032 2 546 19 31 Email: