Energy poverty is a much bigger problem than is currently thought, according to Mariëlle Feenstra, PhD-candidate in the chair Energy and Gender (Department CSTM; Faculty BMS). She has written this in a white paper in collaboration with TNO, the University of Leeds, the University of Groningen, and the University of Barcelona.
The researchers want to draw attention to the role of energy poverty in the energy transition. There are many different definitions of energy poverty, but the most common one is a household that spends at least 10% of its disposable income on energy. Such households face high expenses on electricity and gas if they want a comfortable temperature in their homes.
Many households still go unnoticed because energy poverty is not measured and not all households that live in energy poverty receive social assistance. These are groups that can really get into trouble. According to Mariëlle, this is mainly because energy policy still looks too often at the average household. "Take students, for example, who are not in the social safety net and do not receive any benefits. Now that winter is approaching and we all spend a lot of time at home, the energy bill is skyrocketing", says Mariëlle.
"Governments need to recognise that this is a major problem," continues Mariëlle. Some provinces and municipalities are already working on it, but there is room for improvement. "At the moment, the government is mainly a regulator while they should be a facilitator of the energy transition. Households with insufficient money or households that rent a place should be assisted to make their homes more sustainable so that everyone can participate in the energy transition".
Mariëlle Feenstra is a PhD Candidate in the Energy and Gender chair that is part of the Department of Technology and Governance for Sustainability (faculty BMS). There she researches the role of gender in energy and climate policy. Together with researchers from the universities of Leeds, Groningen and Barcelona and research agency TNO, she wrote a white paper to draw attention to the role of energy poverty in the energy transition.