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Research by geographers at the University of Manchester has influenced European Union policies aimed at identifying and addressing energy poverty. The research has radically transformed EU decision makers’ awareness, knowledge and engagement with energy poverty.



Energy poverty occurs when a household is unable to secure adequate levels of energy in the home. Those affected by the condition are unable to light, heat and cool their homes to a needed level, or access services that are dependent on energy such as electric appliances and water heating. Energy poverty affects billions of households worldwide, particularly in less-developed countries where access to modern energy carriers such as electricity is often limited. In more developed countries, the term fuel poverty refers to a predicament that is widely recognised as a source of wintertime hardship for millions of people, and a driver of multiple health and well-being problems.



Research at the University of Manchester, has provided a blueprint for addressing energy and fuel poverty in the European context. Research aimed to develop novel framings to explain how domestic energy deprivation affects households and communities over prolonged periods of time, and in relation to existing structures of political and economic inequality. 

This is based on an number of research projects: principally the European Research Council-funded ‘Energy Vulnerability and Urban Transitions in Europe’ (EVALUATE), the European Commission-funded EU Energy Poverty Observatory (EPOV) and the European Co-operation in Science and Technology-funded ‘European Energy Poverty: Agenda Co-Creation and Knowledge Innovation’ (ENGAGER) Action.



The research has led to the integration of energy poverty-relevant provisions in new regulatory and legal frameworks at the EU, regional and local scales. The research was taken up directly by the EC Working Group on Vulnerable Consumers (ECWG, 2012-2016), and referenced in EU policy documents for the development of a new European energy poverty policy – the EU Energy Poverty Observatory (EPOV).  

The National Energy and Climate Plans of nine EU countries – Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Romania, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Estonia and Malta – used EPOV data and indicators to assess energy poverty levels at the national scale.

The UK’s largest fuel poverty charity – National Energy Action – points out that EPOV has enabled knowledge transfer to combat energy poverty.

In 2018, EVALUTE was selected by the EC as one of the top 20 EU-funded research projects (out of 230) with the greatest societal benefits for EU citizens.


More information

Institution: University of Manchester

Researchers: Professor Stefan Bouzarovski, Dr Saska Petrova, Dr Harriet Thomson, Dr Neil Simcock, Dr Sergio Tirado Herrero, Dr Caitlin Robinson


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Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (2023) Transforming European energy poverty policy. Available at  Last accessed on: <date>


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