First work package ASSIST project finished - energy poverty policy in different countries investigated

07-06-2018

Recently the first work package of the EU project ASSIST was completed. From Flanders EnergyVille/VITO and eandis are part of the project consortium. ASSIST (Support Network for Household Energy Saving) is a European project funded by the European Commission under the H2020 program. The aim is to combat energy poverty by activating vulnerable consumers in the energy market, making a positive change in behavior to save energy (with the help of energy consultants) and influencing the design of policies to combat energy poverty. By taking into account both the social and energy-related aspects, ASSIST wants to tackle the most important obstacles for vulnerable customers (with a focus on customers in energy poverty) to participate in the energy market (both electricity and heat).

This first work package analyzed energy poverty and energy poverty policies in the various countries that are part of the project consortium. The analysis looked, among other things, at the various definitions and different ways to map out energy poverty, the available financial instruments, current national and EU projects, the perceptions of vulnerable customers (via a survey), and the estimates of the key stakeholders with regard to the policy pursued.

All results were published on the project website (https://www.assist2gether.eu) :

Furthermore, a database was also created with the available financial instruments in the various countries (http://database.assist2gether.eu/).

In Flanders, the following financial instruments available to vulnerable customers were identified as 'best practices' (D2.1):

  • The social tariff for electricity and / or natural gas;
  • The different available extra premiums for investments in energy efficiency or energy saving;
  • The interest-free loan for energy-saving renovations.

In addition, many interesting ongoing projects were identified and listed, each of which makes a specific contribution to combating energy poverty (D2.3).
Despite the many ongoing initiatives, there is still room for improvement. The Flemish stakeholders we interviewed identified five main themes as priority (D2.4):

  • clarify the link between poverty and energy poverty, and the problems associated with improving the quality of housing;
  • the rising costs of energy prices (partly due to the incentives to switch to renewable energy);
  • the fact that vulnerable consumers do not always use the financial instruments specifically intended for this target group;
  • the difficult estimate of real energy savings as a result of energy scans in vulnerable customers;
  • the difficult accessibility of certain target groups.

With this in mind, the Flemish stakeholders had the following recommendations for shaping the ASSIST action in Flanders:

  • tailored advice for specific vulnerable consumer groups;
  • make information more accessible for groups that are difficult to reach;
  • close cooperation between the ASSIST energy consultants and the energy cutters;
  • emphasizing savings that can be realized through a change of energy supplier;
  • to promote the work of energy cut-ins at EU level.

You can follow the activities of the Assist project via Twitter.