Last year, 7.9 million people had to borrow money to pay their energy bills. More than 1 million children live in households that have to limit their use of heating and hot water.

On February 29 we were kindly invited by our charity partner Ashden to join thought leaders and innovators to confront this critical question; how can we make sure clean energy products, services and technologies improve the lives of people on low incomes?

Dr Steve Hall, from Ashden did a great job in compering (and controlling!) the speakers who gave us some really interesting and challenging presentations. So, take a bow;

Emma Fletcher, Director Low Carbon Homes, Octopus Energy

Emma is a passionate advocate for change, community resilience and sustainability solutions for all. Roger knew he recognised her name from somewhere and then was told she established and led the UK’s first fossil fuel-free district heating scheme in her village, Swaffham Prior, which quite rightly featured in trade, national and international press and media. She is also pretty good at her day job!

Stuart Gadsden, Commercial Director, Kensa Group

Stuart has over 20 years’ experience of studying and working in the field of renewable energy, including achieving his Ph.D. in solar energy. Stuart is passionate about decarbonising heat and taking people out of fuel poverty and shared a brilliant story about how Kensa installed ground source heat pumps into a high rise estate in Thurrock.

Headquartered in Truro, Cornwall, the Kensa Group is a fast-growing collection of award-winning British businesses involved in the manufacture and installation of ground source heat pumps and the ownership of associated underground infrastructure. As the debate about supply chain length and instability rages Kensa is a great example of on shoring in the UK.

Dr Donal Brown, Director of UK Programmes, Ashden

Donal has 15 years experience in the low carbon housing and renewable energy sectors.  A sustainable housing and energy demand specialist, he has provided policy consultancy on housing, retrofit and renewable energy policy to the Welsh Government and UK Labour Party, and chairs the Board of Directors of the retrofit charity Retrofitworks.

Christian Jaccarini, Senior Researcher, New Economics Foundation

Christian is an economist and senior researcher with the New Economics Foundation and has researched the domestic retrofit issue extensively, working at national, regional and local levels. His recent report on a local green new deal, explored how the UK can act to achieve climate, social and economic goals.

The energy revolution is well underway and every day we read about companies changing their energy sources, growth in access to renewables and incredible innovation in energy distribution but, and it is a huge but, there is a real danger of millions of people from disadvantaged communities and low-income households being left behind. The theme of the event was that we cannot let this happen!

We heard from businesses and charities doing things differently, and making sure the benefits of energy innovation reach those who need them most.

We got our teeth stuck into the critical questions like how can we make solutions affordable, and deliver them at scale? What policy action is needed? And how can we make sure energy innovation delivers new jobs and better health in marginalised communities?

The discussion was only cut short by the need to let the cleaners into the room but like all good networking events we reconvened in the pub and continued the debate!

If you don’t know Ashden check them out HERE and if you want to be truly inspired by what we can actually change in the world through human endeavour and sheer determination join us for the Ashen Awards in London on June 27th.