Energy poverty policies and measures in 5 EU countries: A comparative study
Energy Poverty (EP) is the inability to attain a socially and materially necessitated level of domestic energy services. In the EU this occurs primarily due to low incomes, poor energy performance of buildings and high energy costs. The impacts of EP range from impaired social lives to unhealthy living conditions, with further consequences in the physical and mental health of energy poor individuals. Member states have been assigned by the EU with the responsibility of dealing with EP within their own territories. This is attainable mainly by creating effective policies, while also encouraging synergies among policies of different fields. However, scientific knowledge is gathered and action is taken on a national level only in a limited number of EU countries. For this reason, this paper aims to fill in the gap and capture snapshots from five EU countries (Cyprus, Spain, Portugal, Bulgaria and Lithuania) where EP has not been exhaustively examined. The study provides an overview of selected policies and measures directly or indirectly targeting EP alleviation and analyses their history and evolution at an EU level as well as at national level. It considers the different geographical dimensions, conditions and aspects (e.g. national or regional) where EP is encountered, in an attempt to identify any variances or similarities in the approaches adopted. Through this comparative study, strengths and weaknesses of national strategies are identified and analysed. Conclusively, based on this analysis, recommendations are made on how to utilise policy tools and provide the most efficient support to energy poor households in the corresponding countries.