Following on from a hugely successful early career research symposium held in Manchester last year, this summer we again hosted over 30 early career researchers (ECRs) from across Europe for ‘Advances in fuel poverty research and practice II: a pan-European early career researcher symposium’.

This event was held in Nottingham on 11th September 2017, and was organised by the University of Manchester, Nottingham Trent University, and National Energy Action. Support and funding was received from Eaga Charitable Trust, and the European Energy Poverty Observatory. Across the day we sought to provide a supportive physical and virtual forum for ECRs from all disciplines to:

  • Share emergent research on or related to domestic energy deprivation;
  • Consider the development of an integrated and innovative conceptual framework for the research and amelioration of fuel poverty;
  • Develop national and international collaborations with public policy officials and civil society;
  • Further strengthen the existing multidisciplinary network of researchers from across Europe.
Attendees at the 2017 symposium. Photo by Julie Rosborough

Attendees at the 2017 symposium. Photo by Julie Rosborough

The symposium was opened by Harriet Thomson (University of Manchester), David Kidney (Eaga Charitable Trust), and Julie Rosborough (Nottingham Trent University). The day featured 15 short presentations by ECRs, and guest talks from Philip Squire (Sustainability Trust NZ), Gail Scholes and Jade Kirk (Robin Hood Energy), and Jamie-Leigh Ruse and Luke Garrett (National Energy Action) [click to view presentations]. Attendees also participated in lively group discussions on designing new indicators of fuel poverty, which will feed in to an application for a new dedicated module on energy poverty in the European Social Survey, as part of ongoing efforts by the European Energy Poverty Observatory to improve data quality and availability.

The symposium was held in partnership with National Energy Action (NEA), one of the UK’s leading fuel poverty charities. As part of this arrangement, 10 ECRs attended NEA’s annual conference (11th to 13th September) and had the opportunity to display poster presentations of their research.

A selection of the ECRs by their posters at NEA's conference. Photo by Raúl Castaño-Rosa @rcr90

A selection of the ECRs by their posters at NEA’s conference. Photo by Raúl Castaño-Rosa @rcr90

Thanks to everyone who attended and contributed to the event’s success. With the recent awarding of a COST Action grant to support international networking on energy poverty, we can look forward to even more opportunities in the future to share and discuss our work.

In the first ever EUFPN blog post on Italy, Ivan Faiella and Luciano Lavecchia [1] look at energy expenditure shares over time, the role of different indicators, and policy responses within Italy. 

Introduction

In Italy, between 2000 and 2013, the share of energy (heating and electricity) on total households’ expenditure increased by 1 percentage point (reaching almost 6 percent – fig. 1a). Since energy consumption is inelastic, at least in the short run, this growth was mainly determined by higher energy prices. As the share of energy expenditure is unevenly distributed, poorer households were mainly affected; in 2015 families in the lowest 10 percent of expenditure distribution spent more than 4 percent of their budget in energy (compared to the 1 percent expended by affluent households – fig. 1b). Read the rest of this entry »

In our latest guest post Victoria Pellicer-Sifres explores fuel poverty in Spain through the lens of energy vulnerability, revealing a range of interrelated factors that are exacerbating the issue. 

In Spain, fuel poverty is now becoming recognised. Thanks to the claims of activists and social organisations, and embedded in a context of economic crisis, the concept has now captured media and some regional governments’ attention. But we are only looking upon a limited part of a bigger problem. We thus need, as a first step, to change current definition towards a more critical and politicised one. That would open us the option to advance towards a more transformative conceptualisation. Read the rest of this entry »

Advances in fuel poverty research and practice II: a pan-European early career researcher symposium

 

       

*Updated – travel bursary scheme is now closed, but free participant registration remains open*

Monday 11th September 2017, Nottingham Conference Centre, UK

Following on from a successful early career research symposium held in Manchester last year, participant registration is open for postgraduate and early career researchers (ECRs) in all disciplines for a second sponsored pan-European symposium on domestic energy deprivation (details below). Read the rest of this entry »

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.  Read the rest of this entry »

In our latest guest blog post, Lidija Živčić discusses energy poverty in South East Europe, and introduces key findings from the REACH project.

The energy poverty situation is severe in the South and East Europe (SEE) region, where 30%, or more, of households are struggling with energy poverty (see video). It is commonly falsely assumed that energy poverty has the same characteristic, regardless of the cultural, climatic or political background. However, practice has shown that regional and historical differences play a significant role in prevalence and characteristics of energy poverty. Read the rest of this entry »

In our first guest article of 2017, Katarzyna Sałach from the Institute for Structural Research in Warsaw presents some key findings from a recently concluded study of fuel poverty in Poland. 

The second year of an intensive study on fuel poverty in Poland, conducted by the Institute for Structural Research (IBS), is just coming to the end. Key findings are made, key numbers are known, and some solutions have been proposed. The problem is worth investigation: high regional variation of living conditions, rooted in the history of Poland, results in the heterogeneity of the fuel poor. The complexity of the phenomenon set a challenge for the researchers, but at the same time forced a more insightful understanding of differences between various indicators of fuel poverty. Read the rest of this entry »

Tamás Meszerics – MEP Greens/EFA – and his team have recently published a new handbook on energy poverty in Europe. The purpose of the Energy Poverty Handbook is to offer an overview for decision makers and policy practitioners on the complex issues of energy poverty. The book is available online and will also be distributed in hard copy. A number of leading researchers, policy analysts, and NGO representatives have contributed chapters to this book:

  • Sian Jones, European Anti- Poverty Network (EAPN)
  • Angela Tod, University of Sheffield
  • Harriet Thomson, University of Manchester and EU Fuel Poverty Network
  • Maarten De Groote, BPIE
  • Filippos Anagnostopoulos, BPIE
  • Stefan Bouzarovski, University of Manchester
  • Sergio Tirado Herrero, RMIT University and University of Manchester
  • Carolyn Snell, University of York
  • Audrey Dobbins, University of Stuttgart
  • Steve Pye, University College London
  • Edit Lakatos, Housing Europe
  • Anna Bajomi, Compagnia di San Paolo

To celebrate the publication of this book, a launch event is being hosted at the European Parliament on Tuesday 29th November 2016, 13:00-14:00. More information about the event can be found in the box below. Registration is via this link.

Our latest guest blog post is written by Dr Lucie Middlemiss from the University of Leeds, in which she provides a critique of the new fuel poverty definition in England.

This week, a paper that I have written on the ‘new politics of fuel poverty’ is out in the journal Critical Social Policy. I thought fuelpoverty.eu readers might be interested to hear the arguments I am making about the Low Income High Costs indicator (LIHC) and the way it has been introduced in England. In the paper I set out to critically analyse the new ‘politics’ of fuel poverty in England. This means I analysed all the documents that the UK government produced around with the introduction of LIHC, to understand how they redefine the problem of fuel poverty in England and with what consequences. Read the rest of this entry »

The discourse of  protecting”vulnerable consumers” in relation to energy poverty has filtered down from EU legislation into national policy frameworks, as Teodora Peneva explores in the following guest article on the situation in Bulgaria.

On May 26, 2016, the Ministry of Energy announced a new mechanism for protection of vulnerable consumer of energy in Bulgaria, including financial, non-financial and long-term measures.

As part of the new mechanism, the definition of vulnerable consumers was re-written, to include three more groups of vulnerable consumers to the existing 17 groups covered by the targeted assistance for heating in effect since 2003. This will increase the target group to 1.1mn people (14% of the population) from the currently receiving winter heating allowance group of nearly 500,000 people. The newly added groups include 1) elderly over 70 years of age, living alone, with income only from pension that is up to the defined poverty line in the country for the respective year; 2) persons with over 90% reduced ability, with an attendant; 3) families with disabled children, with an attendant. Some of these criteria overlap with the existing persons and families receiving targeted assistance for heating under the Social Assistance Act of the country. Read the rest of this entry »

EU Fuel Poverty Network | Working to fight fuel poverty across Europe