Energy Poverty in Europe: Measures and Policies

Energy poverty in Europe has augmented over the past decade, with a huge 54 million European citizens[1] spending in excess of 10% of their income on energy bills. The map below shows the distribution of households across Europe that were unable to keep their home adequately heated in 2013, to the World Health Organizations recommended household temperature of 21°C. The south east of Europe has been significantly affected by energy poverty, with countries such as Turkey, Bulgaria and Lithuania showing over 30% of their populations living in energy poverty, and Italy and Greece presenting figures of over 20% of the total population unable to maintain a satisfactory household temperature

fuelpoveryu                                                     Source: BBC, Eurostat [2]

Many measures and policies have been put in place across Europe in order to provide assistance to vulnerable customers, either considered to be in energy poverty or on its cusp. They can be grouped into four main categories; Energy Efficiency Measures, Information and awareness campaign, Financial interventions and Additional consumer protection methods.

I believe the most efficient measures to protect and support households falling into energy poverty are those which make a long-term impact rather than acting as a temporary dressing for the problem, this can include multi-tiered approaches looking at financial support coupled with awareness campaigns and efficiency measures. For instance, Italy provided 95% of its population with electricity smart meters, with a driver from the government for gas companies to follow suit[3].  This country-wide coverage of smart meters will allow policy makers to have a detailed set of analysis on minimum energy requirements and to monitor energy consumption, especially in households of vulnerable consumers.

 

References

[1] INSIGHT_E “Energy poverty and vulnerable consumers in the energy sector across the EU” Page 22, https://ec.europa.eu/energy/sites/ener/files/documents/INSIGHT_E_Energy%20Poverty%20-%20Main%20Report_FINAL.pdf, accessed 03/01/2017

[2] BBC (2013), “Energy bills: Who pays the most in Europe?” http://www.bbc.com/news/business-25200808, accessed 03/01/2017

[3] INSIGHT_E “Energy poverty and vulnerable consumers in the energy sector across the EU” Page 56, https://ec.europa.eu/energy/sites/ener/files/documents/INSIGHT_E_Energy%20Poverty%20-%20Main%20Report_FINAL.pdf, accessed 03/01/2017


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