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The new EU Energy Poverty Observatory will work to “not leave behind any citizen in the Energy Transition”

Canete EPOVThe European Commission (EC) presented yesterday in Brussels its new energy initiative: The European Energy Poverty Observatory (EPOV), an online platform that will contribute to Europe’s efforts to not leave behind any citizen in the Energy Transition and to address a challenge that affects more than 50 million households.

 “No citizen should be left behind in the energy transition”, as one of the justifications for the creation of EPOV offered by the Commissioner for Action for Climate and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, and the General Director of Energy, Dominique Ristori, who – together with the VicePresident of the Energy Union Commission, Maroš Šefčovič and other high-level speakers – participated in the inauguration of the observatory.

The main goals of EPOV are to provide reliable data showing the scope of this problem,  to inform the public of the different measures to fight against energy poverty, to promote the application and implementation of those among the different administrations and civil society, to disseminate information and good practices, to facilitate exchange of knowledge among stakeholders, and to support informed decision-making at the local, national and EU level, among others.

Access to energy is one of the sustainable development objectives adopted by the United Nations, as the General Director of Energy recalled, therefore, “the European Union (EU) should be a leader and not a follower”.

A leadership that will need the contribution of all member states as explained Vice-President of the Energy Union Commission, Maroš Šefčovič “the Observatory will develop indicators measuring energy poverty across the EU. This will provide, for the first time, a comprehensive overview of the situation based on comparable data. These data will therefore be useful for national and regional governments, for cities, for civil society and even for entrepreneurs pitching their solutions.But it is very important for me that the observatory will not only provide data and information. It must engage with Member States, national, regional and local stakeholders. It must contribute its expertise and assistance to encourage them to fight energy poverty.”

During the event, the online platform was presented, as well as its different settings available to help member states in their efforts to fight against energy poverty.

However, panellists agreed there’s no single definition of energy poverty because there’s no one-size-fits all response, as Šefčovič explained “our current legislation already requires that member states act on energy poverty once identified. The problem is that two out of every three member states do not define or measure energy poverty. This means that households with low energy consumption are not identified or cared for. But looking the other way will not make this problem go away. “

For Theresa Griffin, S & D Group MEP, “Europe must consider how legislation will affect the most vulnerable consumers” and emphasized that “the consumer must be at the center of energy justice”.

Currently this problem affects more than 50 million households in the EU, which struggle to achieve adequate heating levels, pay their bills on time and live in homes free of moisture and mold. As reported by the European Commission, the awareness of energy poverty is increasing in Europe and has been identified as a political priority by several EU institutions, especially in the legislative package of the Commission “Clean energy for all Europeans”.

However, there are ongoing projects like NOBEL GRID that are already contributing to fight energy poverty challenge. By bringing user-friendly and affordable solutions for home energy monitoring (SMX – Smart Meter including both: metering and ‘smart’ services) and control (SHIC – Smart Home Intelligent Controller), the NOBEL GRID project is helping in making the new technologies available to everyone. The developed solutions, at the end-user, Aggregator (DRFM) and network operator (G3M) level, will provide improved observability of the overall network, meaning that failure detection or loss of power supply will be easier to detect, and the corrective measures will be performed faster. Finally, there will be savings enabled for both the network operator and the end-users.

The EPOV project will last 40 months and will be formed by a consortium of European entities led by the University of Manchester and in which Ecofys, the European Policy Center, Intrasoft International, National Energy Action and Wuppertal Institute participate as partners.


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