2022 brought an unprecedented challenge for European citizens when it comes to access to energy and energy bills. Looking back at it, we launched 2023 with a first lunch talk focused on the developments regarding energy poverty during the past year as well as a debate of what is the roadmap ahead for local governments that wish to address energy poverty.
The discussion started with Stefan Bouzarovski, professor at the University of Manchester and keynote speaker of the session highlighting that “energy poverty is not only just about poverty, it is about infrastructure, it is about how you provide energy and how you organised your housing sector, so it has to do with the system and the chains through energy services are demanded by households”. He explained that with the energy crisis of the past year, energy poverty became a major news items, while worsening significantly. To address this rising challenge, more policy developments emerged at different levels (European but also national and local). Moreover, he underlined that the finalisation of the Social Climate Fund is a great step forward, with the entry of social consideration in the EU mandate, as for some years ago it was for Energy Security.
He identified 4 main challenges in energy poverty mitigation that need to be overcome:
- Energy poverty is seen as a behavioural challenge, whereas it is about structural disempowerment. Addressing this challenge “is not about fixing the energy poor, it is about fixing the housing sector”
- We lack some very significant indicators and data on different facets of energy poverty, such as information about heat waves and summer energy poverty, housing faults or well-being indicators.
- Responses are divergent across countries, regions and cities. Not every local government has the adequate awareness, capacity or resources to tackle the challenge.
- We have now more aggressive decarbonization policies and we need to pay attention to their impacts on energy poor households.
Beatriz García García, representing the municipality of Getafe, presented the project EPIU: Energy Poverty Intelligence Unit, that the city is carrying out together with several local stakeholders. The goal of the project is to identify the hidden energy poverty, thanks to an innovative approach based on an intelligence system to collect information. The data collected on energy poverty enabled the city to open a health home office in 2022 in the neighbourhoods to reply to the most demanded services: advice on how to pay energy bills, how to receive ‘’bono social’’ financial aid and the renovations solutions. The service benefited to 792 families in 2022 and the municipality foresees to continue the service in 2023.
Participants commented that they foresee a variety of activities to become relevant in the discussion during 2023 such as studying the impact of heat pumps on energy grids, heating, ventilation and air conditioning impacts, energy poverty in students’ and schools’ populations and energy communities among others.
The next lunch talk of the series will present different cases of the ongoing EPAH technical assistance, to discover the various activities and interventions provided by EPAH. You can already register for the session on 14 February.
- 27 Januar 2023
- Directorate-General for Energy