Skip to main content

Project Summary

RULET – Rural-Led Energy Transition – is an initiative within the SPIRE 2 project aimed at reducing or eliminating the risk of low-income households being left behind in the transition to clean, smart, integrated energy systems.

Led by Ulster University and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE), RULET is focused on making the full benefits of smart energy technology available to the most vulnerable households in the western counties of Northern Ireland, a wind energy hotspot. Other partners include NIE Networks, Energia/PowerNI, heat pump manufacturer Grant of Birr, Co Offaly, and smart heating control developer Climote.

“When you look at technologies like energy storage for wind and solar, so far they have tended to be available only to people with capital,” Dr Patrick Keatley, lecturer in Energy Policy and Infrastructure, Ulster University explains. “In effect, you needed to be a house owner with a roof and money to spend. That means there is a danger of subsidising people who can already afford it.” The problem is only exacerbated by the fact that those people will also be able to avail of smart grid technology giving them access to cheaper energy. “That leaves those who can afford it least having to shoulder the higher fixed costs of the network,” Keatley adds.

The environmental benefit is also important. “As we look towards the Net Zero 2050 target, that’s just two boiler lifetimes away,” he continues. “The average boiler will last 15 years, and home heating needs to start switching to heat pumps or some other low-carbon option now. We expect to finish the RULET project by mid-2022 and hope that the solutions will be rolled out more widely by NIHE after that.”

Our Other Projects


HANDIHEAT aims to protect rural communities from energy price fluctuations and improve the social well being and quality of living throughout participating regions.


Innovate UK has supported new plans to bring the first ever ‘micro-grid’ to Northern Ireland.