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What are the complexities that underpin energy poverty in Europe?

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There are not only methodological but also conceptual complexities that underpin energy poverty. Portraying energy poverty is a challenging task for numerous reasons. In the first place, energy poverty is private and confined to the home. Secondly, it is a cross-sectional problem with numerous and heterogeneous drivers extended from energy regulations and household income levels to building energy efficiency. Moreover, it encircles a diversity of domestic energy services such as space heating and cooling, lighting and hygiene. Furthermore, energy poverty is a spatially as well as temporally dynamic phenomenon and results in causes and impacts difficult to identify in detail. In addition, various indicators are used across Europe to measure the problem and to define vulnerable groups. Finally, there is no single agreed EU-wide definition describing what energy poverty is.


Thus, the complexities that must be met and resolved are on one hand the limited availability of sufficient and refined data at European and national levels, and on the other hand the lack of consensus, due to the diverse realities across Member States, on how energy poverty should be conceptualised and measured. Overcoming the aforementioned methodological and conceptual setbacks, Europe will pave the way to correctly address the energy poverty problem.