In this post, Dr Harriet Thomson, founder of the EUFPN, introduces the new European Energy Poverty Observatory project (EPOV) and what it means for the EUFPN.
Some of you may have seen the recent announcement that the European Commission has awarded €830,000 to a consortium led by Dr Harriet Thomson and Professor Stefan Bouzarovski at the University of Manchester, for them to develop and launch a new European Energy Poverty Observatory (also known as EPOV). This new project represents a significant shift change in the European Commission’s approach to fuel poverty and energy poverty, from previously opposing efforts to define and measure the phenomenon to now investing over €1,000,000 to two new studies and the Observatory.
EPOV is an ambitious, 40-month project with eight Work Packages and an overarching aim to engender transformational change in the availability of knowledge on energy poverty in Europe. EPOV is inherently linked to the European Commission’s new Clean Energy package proposals, with an expectation that EPOV will support decision-makers as they begin to implement new energy policy requirements relating to energy poverty. Via the following objectives, the EPOV will:
- O1: Improve transparencyby bringing together the disparate sources of data and knowledge that exist in varying degrees across the whole of the EU.
- O2: Provide a user-friendly and open-access resource that will promote public engagement as well as informed decision making by local, national and EU-level decision makers.
- O3: Enable networking and facilitate knowledge sharing and co-production among member states and relevant stakeholders.
- O4: Disseminate information and organise outreach work that will connect and build on existing pan-European and Member State initiatives in the energy poverty domain.
- O5: Provide technical assistance to the widest possible range of interested parties, based on a holistic approach to understanding and addressing energy poverty in the European Union.
EPOV is being developed by a pan-European consortium of six key organisations:
- University of Manchester (Project Manager: Harriet Thomson; Project Chair: Stefan Bouzarovski)
- European Policy Centre
- Intrasoft International
- National Energy Action
- Wuppertal Institute
The main consortium partners will also be supported by a range of other energy poverty organisations:
- Asociación de Ciencias Ambientales
- Energy Action Project (EnAct)
- Energy Action Ltd
- Housing Europe
- Centre for Renewable Energy Sources and Saving
- EU Fuel Poverty Network (EUFPN)
We have a number of exciting outputs and events planned throughout the duration of the project (December 2016-March 2020), and we are keen to engage the whole spectrum of stakeholders involved in work relating to energy poverty. It is anticipated that EPOV will go live in late 2017, with the launch of a new interactive web portal.
A key component of our proposal for the EPOV project was to build on the huge success the EUFPN has enjoyed:
- Since launching in 2011, the EUFPN has become a leading source of information and networking on fuel poverty;
- Over 22,000 people worldwide have visited this website;
- 30 people from across Europe have contributed guest blog articles;
- Our resource catalogue has 380+ articles on fuel poverty;
- We have 160 members signed up on the website;
- Our official Twitter account has ca. 1,260 followers;
- The EUFPN is having policy impact, and has been cited in MEP questions to the European Commission, and various policy documents.
Our plan is to transfer existing content from the EUFPN website (blog articles, case studies, membership profiles, etc.) to the new EPOV website, and to phase out the EUFPN website approximately three months after the official launch of EPOV. However, until that point we will continue as normal, encouraging multi-stakeholder discussions on the topic of fuel poverty, and publishing new guest blog articles. Our Twitter account (@fuelpoverty_eu) will also continue to exist, and will be used as the official account for EPOV from late 2017 in conjunction with the hashtag #EPOV.
Of course, the EUFPN would not exist without the fantastic support we have received from our members over the years, and so we hope you will join us on our new adventure, which looks set to offer a really exciting set of opportunities for everyone involved with the fight against fuel poverty. To receive updates about EPOV, please sign up to our mailing list.