Geographies of energy poverty and vulnerability in the European Union

  • Stefan BouzarovskiEmail author


Until recently, the suggestion that significant parts of the population may be suffering from a distinctive form of poverty due to being unable to access adequate energy services in the home was a non-issue among politicians and academics in much of the European Union. The United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland were the only two EU states where the material existence and political voice of the ‘fuel poor’ were widely recognized in public debates, policies and research. During the past few decades, both of these countries have developed a range of safety nets to supporthouseholds who struggle to pay their energy bills, while offering various assistance schemes (led by the state, charitable organizations and businesses) to invest in the energy efficiency of residential housing, especially among low income households.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adger, W. Neil. 2000. “Social and ecological resilience: are they related?” Progress in Human Geography 24: 347–64.Google Scholar
  2. Bacon, R. 1995. Measurement of Welfare Changes Caused by Large Price Shifts. World Bank Discussion Paper No. 273. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.Google Scholar
  3. Bartiaux, Françoise, Kirsten Gram-Hanssen, Paula Fonseca, Līga Ozoliņa, and Toke Haunstrup Christensen. 2014. “A Practice–theory Approach to Homeowners’ Energy Retrofits in Four European Areas.” Building Research & Information 42: 525–38.Google Scholar
  4. Billen, G. 2008. “Energie-Sozialtarife: Antwort Auf Drohende Energiearmut?” Wirtschaftsdienst 88: 489–90.Google Scholar
  5. Boardman, Brenda. 1991. Fuel Poverty: From Cold Homes to Affordable Warmth. London: Bellhaven.Google Scholar
  6. Boardman, Brenda. 2010. Fixing Fuel Poverty: Challenges and Solutions. London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
  7. Bouzarovski, Stefan. 2010. “Post-Socialist Energy Reforms in Critical Perspective: Entangled Boundaries, Scales and Trajectories of Change.” European Urban and Regional Studies 17: 167–82.Google Scholar
  8. Bouzarovski, Stefan. 2010. 2014. “Energy Poverty in the European Union: Landscapes of Vulnerability.” Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Energy and Environment 3: 276–89.Google Scholar
  9. Bouzarovski, Stefan. 2010. 2015. Retrofitting the City: Residential Flexibility, Resilience and the Built Environment. London: IB Tauris.Google Scholar
  10. Bouzarovski, Stefan, Michael Bradshaw, and Alexander Wochnik. 2015. “Making Territory through Infrastructure: The Governance of Natural Gas Transit in Europe.” Geoforum 64: 217–28.Google Scholar
  11. Bouzarovski, Stefan, M. Gentile, and J. Salukvadze. 2010. “A socially resilient urban transition? The contested landscapes of apartment building extensions in two post-communist cities.” Urban Studies 48: 2689–2714.Google Scholar
  12. Bouzarovski, Stefan, and S. Petrova. 2015a. “The EU Energy Poverty and Vulnerability Agenda: An Emergent Domain of Transnational Action.” In Energy Policy Making in the EU, edited by Jale Tosun, Sophie Biesenbender, and Kai Schulze, 129–44. 28. London: Springer.
  13. Bouzarovski, Stefan, and Saska Petrova. 2015b. “A Global Perspective on Domestic Energy Deprivation: Overcoming the Energy Poverty–fuel Poverty Binary.” Energy Research & Social Science 10 (November): 31–40.Google Scholar
  14. Bouzarovski, Stefan, Saska Petrova, and Robert Sarlamanov. 2012. “Energy Poverty Policies in the EU: A Critical Perspective.” Energy Policy 49: 76–82.Google Scholar
  15. Bouzarovski, Stefan, and Sergio Tirado Herrero. 2015. “The Energy Divide: Integrating Energy Transitions, Regional Inequalities and Poverty Trends in the European Union.” European Urban and Regional Studies, August,
  16. Bouzarovski, Stefan, Sergio Tirado Herrero, Saska Petrova, and Diana Urge-Vorsatz. 2015. “Unpacking the Spaces and Politics of Energy Poverty: Path-Dependencies, Deprivation and Fuel Switching in Post-Communist Hungary.” Local Environment,
  17. Brunner, Karl-Michael, Markus Spitzer, and Anja Christanell. 2012. “Experiencing Fuel Poverty. Coping Strategies of Low-Income Households in Vienna/Austria.” Energy Policy 49 (October): 53–59.Google Scholar
  18. Burholt, V., and G. Windle. 2006. “Keeping Warm? Self-Reported Housing and Home Energy Efficiency Factors Impacting on Older People Heating Homes in North Wales.” Energy Policy 34: 1198–1208.Google Scholar
  19. Buzar, Stefan. 2007a. Energy Poverty in Eastern Europe: Hidden Geographies of Deprivation. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  20. Buzar, Stefan. 2007b. “The ‘hidden’ geographies of energy poverty in post-socialism: between institutions and households.” Geoforum 38: 224–40.Google Scholar
  21. Buzar, Stefan. 2007c. “When homes become prisons: the relational spaces of post-socialist energy poverty.” Environment and Planning A 39: 1908–25.Google Scholar
  22. Campbell, R. 1993. “Fuel Poverty and Government Response.” Social Policy & Administration 27: 58–70.Google Scholar
  23. Carper, M., and C. Staddon. 2009. “Alternating Currents: EU Expansion, Bulgarian Capitulation and Disruptions in the Electricity Sector of South-East Europe.” Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies 11: 179–95.Google Scholar
  24. Cheshire, P. 2009. “Bid to Eradicate Fuel Poverty Must Include Disabled People.” Community Care 1754: 11–11.Google Scholar
  25. Clinch, J. Peter, and John D Healy. 2000. “Housing Standards and Excess Winter Mortality.” Journal of Epidemial Community Research, no. 54: 729–720.Google Scholar
  26. Critchley, Roger, Jan Gilbertson, Michael Grimsley, and Geoff Green. 2007. “Living in Cold Homes after Heating Improvements: Evidence from Warm-Front, England’s Home Energy Efficiency Scheme.” Applied Energy 84: 147–58.Google Scholar
  27. Devalière, Isolde. 2008. “Au-Dela Des Impayes D’energie, Comment Apprehender La Precarite Energetique?” Espace Populations Sociétés. Space Populations Societies 2008: 191–201.Google Scholar
  28. Dodonov, B., P. Opitz, and W. Pfaffenberger. 2004. “How much do electricity tariff Increases in Ukraine hurt the poor?” Energy Policy 32: 855–63.Google Scholar
  29. Dubois, U. 2012. “From Targeting to Implementation: The Role of Identification of Fuel Poor Households.” Energy Policy 49: 107–15.Google Scholar
  30. Ekamper, P., F. van Poppel, C. van Duin, and J. Garssen. 2009. “150 Years of Temperature-Related Excess Mortality in the Netherlands.” Demographic Research 21: 385–426.Google Scholar
  31. EPEE Project. 2008. “Definition and Evaluation of Fuel Poverty in Belgium, Spain, France, Italy and the United Kingdom.” European partnership for Energy and the Environment.
  32. European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. 2003. Can the Poor Pay for Power? The Affordability of Electricity in South East Europe. London: EBRD and IPA Energy.Google Scholar
  33. Fahmy, E., D. Gordon, and D Patsios. 2011. “Predicting Fuel Poverty at a Small-Area Level in England.” Energy Policy 39: 4370–77.Google Scholar
  34. Fankhauser, Samuel, and Sladjana Tepic. 2005. Can Poor Consumers Pay for Energy and Water?. Working Paper No. 92. London: European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.Google Scholar
  35. Freund, C.L., and C.I. Wallich. 1996. “The welfare effects of raising household energy prices in Poland.” The Energy Journal 17: 53–77.Google Scholar
  36. Gallopín, Gilberto C. 2006. “Linkages between vulnerability, resilience, and adaptive capacity.” Global Environmental Change 16: 293–303.Google Scholar
  37. Gray, Dale. 1995. Reforming the Energy Sector in Transition Economies: Selected Experience and Lessons. World Bank Discussion Paper. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.Google Scholar
  38. Harrington, B. E., B. Heyman, N. Merleau-Ponty, H. Stockton, N. Ritchie, and A. Heyman 2005. “Keeping warm and staying well: Findings from the qualitative arm of the Warm Homes Project.” Health and Social Care in the Community 13: 259–67.Google Scholar
  39. Healy, J. 2003. “Excess winter mortality in Europe: a cross country analysis identifying key risk factors.” Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 57: 784–89.Google Scholar
  40. Healy, J. D. 2004. Housing, Fuel Poverty and Health: a Pan-European Analysis. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  41. Healy, J. D., and J. P. Clinch. 2002. “Fuel poverty, thermal comfort and occupancy: results of a national household-survey in Ireland.” Applied Energy 73: 329–43.Google Scholar
  42. Heyman, B., B. E. Harrington, N. Merleau-Ponty, H. Stockton, N. Richie, and T. F. Allan. 2005. “Keeping Warm and Staying Well. Does Home Energy Efficiency Mediate the Relationship between Socio-Economic Status and the Risk of Poorer Health?” Housing Studies 20: 649–64.Google Scholar
  43. Hills, John. 2012. Getting the Measure of Fuel Poverty: Final Report of the Fuel Poverty Review. London: LSE.Google Scholar
  44. Hung, H. S., J. Gilbertson, T. Oreszczyn, G. Green, and I. Ridley. 2009. “A Field Study of Thermal Comfort in Low-Income Dwellings in England before and after Energy Efficient Refurbishment.” Building and Environment 44: 1228–36.Google Scholar
  45. Jansz, Antonia, and Pedro Guertler. 2012. The Impact on the Fuel Poor of the Reduction in Fuel Poverty Budgets in England. London: Association for the Conservation of Energy.Google Scholar
  46. Katsoulakos, N. 2011. “Combating Energy Poverty in Mountainous Areas through Energy-Saving Interventions.” Mountain Research and Development 31: 284–92.Google Scholar
  47. Kočenda, Evžen, and Štěpán Čabelka. 1999. “Liberalization in the energy sector in the CEE-countries: transition and growth.” Osteuropa-Wirtschaft 44: 104–16.Google Scholar
  48. Kopatz, M. 2009. “Energiearmut in Deutschland: Brauchen Wir Einen Sozialtarif?” Energiewirtschaftliche Tagesfragen 59: 48–51.Google Scholar
  49. Kovačević, Aleksandar. 2004. Stuck in the Past: Energy, Environment and Poverty in Serbia and Montenegro. Belgrade: United Nations Development Programme.Google Scholar
  50. Lampietti, Julian, and Anke Meyer. 2002. When Heat is a Luxury: Helping the Urban Poor of Europe and Central Asia Cope with the Cold. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.Google Scholar
  51. Liddell, C. 2009. The Health Impacts of Fuel Poverty on Children. Save The Children. Belfast: University of Ulster.Google Scholar
  52. Liddell, Christine, and Chris Morris. 2010. “Fuel Poverty and Human Health: A Review of Recent Evidence.” Energy Policy, no. 38: 2987–97.Google Scholar
  53. Lovei, L., E. Gurenko, M. Haney, P. O’Keefe, and M. Shkaratan. 2000. Maintaining Utility Services for the Poor: Policies and Practices in Central and Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank.Google Scholar
  54. Milne, G., and B. Boardman. 2000. “Making Cold Homes Warmer: The Effect of Energy Efficiency Improvements in Low-Income Homes. A Report to the Energy Action Grants Agency Charitable Trust.” Energy Policy 28: 411–24.Google Scholar
  55. Miniaci, R., C. Scarpa, and P. Valbonesi. 2008. “Distributional Effects of Price Reforms in the Italian Utility Markets.” Fiscal Studies 29: 135–63.Google Scholar
  56. Moore, R. 2012. “Definitions of Fuel Poverty: Implications for Policy.” Energy Policy, doi:  10.1016/j.enpol.2012.01.057.
  57. Nevin, R. 2010. “Energy-Efficient Housing Stimulus That Pays for Itself.” Energy Policy 38: 4–11.Google Scholar
  58. Nussbaum, Martha C. 2011. Creating Capabilities. Cambridge, M.A.: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  59. Pachauri, S., and D. Spreng. 2004. “Energy use and energy access in relation to poverty.” Economic and Political Weekly 39: 271–78.Google Scholar
  60. Petrova, Saska. 2014. “Contesting Forest Neoliberalization: Recombinant Geographies of ‘illegal’ Logging in the Balkans.” Geoforum 55 (August): 13–21.Google Scholar
  61. Petrova, Saska, Michael Gentile, Ilkka Henrik Mäkinen, and Stefan Bouzarovski. 2013. “Perceptions of Thermal Comfort and Housing Quality: Exploring the Microgeographies of Energy Poverty in Stakhanov, Ukraine.” Environment and Planning A 45: 1240–57.Google Scholar
  62. Petrova, Saska, Darina Posová, Adam House, and Ludek Sýkora. 2013. “Discursive Framings of Low Carbon Urban Transitions: The Contested Geographies of ‘Satellite Settlements’ in the Czech Republic.” Urban Studies 50: 1439–55.Google Scholar
  63. Poggi, Ambra, and Massimo Florio. 2010. “Energy Deprivation Dynamics and Regulatory Reforms in Europe: Evidence from Household Panel Data.” Energy Policy 38: 253–64.Google Scholar
  64. Poputoaia, Diana, and Stefan Bouzarovski. 2010. “Regulating District Heating in Romania: Legislative Challenges and Energy Efficiency Barriers.” Energy Policy 38: 3820–29.Google Scholar
  65. Rezessy, S., K. Dimitrov, D. Ürge-Vorsatz, and S. Baruch. 2006. “Municipalities and energyefficiency in countries in transition. Review of factors that determine municipal involvement in the markets for energy services and energy efficient equipment, or how to augment the role of municipalities as market players.” Energy Policy 34: 223–37.Google Scholar
  66. Sagar, Ambuj D. 2005. “Alleviating Energy Poverty for the World’s Poor.” Energy Policy 33: 1367–72.Google Scholar
  67. Saith, R. 2001. Capabilities: The Concept and Its Operationalisation. QEH Working Paper Series No. 66. Oxford: Queen Elizabeth House.Google Scholar
  68. Santamouris, M., K. Kapsis, D. Korres, I. Livada, C. Pavlou, and M.N. Assimakopoulos. 2007. “On the Relation between the Energy and Social Characteristics of the Residential Sector.” Energy and Buildings 39: 893–905.Google Scholar
  69. Stewart, J., and V. Habgood. 2008. “Benefits of a Health Impact Assessment in Relation to Fuel Poverty: Assessing Luton’s Affordable Warmth Strategy and the Need for a National Mandatory Strategy.” Perspectives in Public Health 128: 123–29.Google Scholar
  70. Thomson, Harriet, and Carolyn Snell. 2013. “Quantifying the Prevalence of Fuel Poverty across the European Union.” Energy Policy 52 (January): 563–72.Google Scholar
  71. Tirado Herrero, Sergio. 2012. Pobreza Energética En España. Potencial de Generación de Empleo Derivado de La Regabilitación Energética de Viviendos. Madrid: Asociacion de Ciencias Ambientales.Google Scholar
  72. Tirado Herrero, S., and D. Urge-Vorsatz. 2012. “Trapped in the Heat: A Post-Communist Type of Fuel Poverty.” Energy Policy 49: 60–68.Google Scholar
  73. Townsend, Peter. 1979. Poverty in the United Kingdom: a Survey of Household Resources and Standards of Living. London: Allen Lane.Google Scholar
  74. Velody, Mark, Michael J.G. Cain, and Michael Philips. 2003. A Regional Review of Social Safety Net Approaches in Support of Energy Sector Reform. Washington, D.C.: US Agency for Inernational Development.Google Scholar
  75. Walker, Gordon. 2008. “Decentralised Systems and Fuel Poverty: Are There Any Links or Risks?” Energy Policy 36: 4514–17.Google Scholar
  76. Wilhite, Harold, Hidetoshi Nakagami, Takashi Masuda, Yukiko Yamaga, and Hiroshi Haneda. 1996. “A cross-cultural analysis of household energy use behaviour in Japan and Norway.” Energy Policy 24: 795–803.Google Scholar
  77. World Bank. 1999a. Non-Payment in the Electricity Sector in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. World Bank Technical Paper No. 423. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.Google Scholar
  78. World Bank. 1999b. Privatization of the Power and Natural Gas Industries in Hungary and Kazakhstan. World Bank Technical Paper No. 451. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.Google Scholar
  79. World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe. 2007. Housing, Energy and Thermal Comfort. A Review of 10 Countries within the WHO European Region. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe.Google Scholar
  80. Wright, A. 2008. “What Is the Relationship between Built Form and Energy Use in Dwellings?” Energy Policy 36: 4544–47.Google Scholar
  81. Wright, F. 2004. “Old and Cold: Older People and Policies Failing to Address Fuel Poverty.” Social Policy & Administration 38: 488–503.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Director of the Centre for Urban Energy and ResilienceUniverstität Manchester/School of Environment, Education and DevelopmentManchesterGroßbritannien

Personalised recommendations