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05 Jul 2013

Regional approaches to tackle fuel poverty (Brussels) – workshop report

Regional approaches to tackle fuel poverty (Brussels) – workshop report

Last week saw the European Commission’s annual Sustainable Energy Week take place in Brussels, with a multitude of policy conferences and workshops focussing on all aspects of energy policy, including energy efficiency, renewable energy and financing. Disappointingly, acknowledgement and discussion of energy/fuel poor and ‘vulnerable’ consumers was lacking throughout the week, except for a half day event on the 27th June, organised jointly by two Intelligent Energy Europe funded projects, ACHIEVE and EC LINC.

The event was entitled “Discover concrete solutions on how to tackle fuel poverty within your territory!” and assembled speakers from across Europe. In the first session, we heard from Anna Lisa Boni on what the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region is doing to fight fuel poverty, followed by a presentation from Lara Blake, policy officer at DG Energy, on the concept of vulnerable consumers, and the work being done by the Vulnerable Consumer Working Group. Lara Blake also outlined some key challenges for EU-level action, including a lack of commitment from Member States to define the concepts of vulnerable customers and energy poverty, resources for energy efficiency programs, and collating and sharing project information.

We later heard from Marlene Potthoff and Etienne Rubens on the evolution of two energy check schemes from local and regional experiments to national scale projects, and learnt more from a range of speakers about pilot projects being conducted in Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany and Hungary.  Marie Moisan and Eva Marx finished the presentations by reflecting on the EC-LINC and ACHIEVE projects, outlining their experiences and lessons learnt.

Professor Christine Liddell chaired the workshop, and provided a concluding summary of the event in which she praised the fuel poverty alleviation projects presented, particularly for the quality of training provided to volunteers, but also stressed the importance of continuing and scaling up the schemes, and the need for good quality and independent impact assessment of projects, preferably utilising the expertise of local Universities.

The issue of scaling up was certainly a key concern for me; all of the pilot projects in attendance focussed on so called ‘low hanging fruit’, including the fitting of low energy light bulbs, thermostatic radiator valves and tap fittings to reduce water flow, which most speakers stated resulted in only modest energy savings. Whilst these are very important first steps, they are not in themselves enough to fundamentally reduce or alleviate fuel poverty and water poverty. However, the expertise gained in running the pilot projects will be invaluable for developing follow-up schemes, particularly in terms of knowing how to engage with people so that they participate in an energy efficiency scheme. Additionally, as Professor Liddell stated, there will have been broader benefits beyond financial savings, including increased thermal comfort and well being, and the feeling of being in control of energy consumption in the home.

If you are interested in finding out more, the presentation documents from the event can be downloaded from the table below, and the ACHIEVE and EC LINC websites are a source of further information.

Presentation title Speaker(s) File
Fuel poverty in PACA region  Anna Lisa Boni Download
Vulnerable Consumers: Identify, Support, Prevent Lara Blake Download
Short stories on energy checks – From local and regional experimentation to EU level Marlene Potthoff and Etienne Rubens  Download
EC-LINC and ACHIEVE: Self-Help for an Energy-Efficient Way of Life Marie Moisan and Eva Marx Download
Energy-Savings consultation in practice Frankfurt, Germany   Download
Energy-Savings consultation in practice Plovdiv, Bulgaria Vasil Zlatev Download
EC-LINC project in Hungary Zsuzsanna Király Download
EC-LINC – Pilot Project: Belgium   Download
Evaluation of the Cariteam-Energiesparservice in Frankfurt Elke Dünnhoff and Dr. Immanuel Stieß Download
EC-LINC and ACHIEVE: Experiences, impacts and lessons learned Marie Moisan and Eva Marx Download

Source: http://www.achieve-project.eu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=121%3Afeedbacks-on-achieves-partner-workshop-during-eusew-2013&catid=6%3Anews&Itemid=5&lang=eeu