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Connecting Obligated Parties to Adopt Innovative Schemes towards Energy Poverty Alleviation

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SocialWatt (Connecting Obligated Parties to Adopt Innovative Schemes towards Energy Poverty Alleviation)

Reporting period: 2019-09-01 to 2021-02-28

According to Eurostat 57 million people can’t keep their home adequately warm during winter, 104 million people cannot keep their homes comfortable enough during summer, 87 million live in poor quality dwellings and 52 million people face delays in paying energy bills. Therefore it is a widespread phenomenon in Europe, affecting a significant number of households across Europe and worldwide, and most importantly affecting peoples' quality of life and health. For example energy poverty can lead to energy rationing (both through temperature reduction and partial heating of the home), energy bill debt, disconnection and debt or rationing on other areas of the household budget. Energy rationing and the inability to keep a home warm can in turn lead to unhealthy indoor environments, for instance, low indoor temperatures, damp and mould that all contribute to cardiovascular and respiratory health impacts. In addition, energy poverty has been linked to negative impacts on social inclusion, educational attainment and mental health.

Recognising the devastating impact of energy poverty, SocialWatt aims to enable energy stakeholders across Europe to develop, adopt, test and spread innovative schemes that aim to alleviate energy poverty. Participating energy suppliers, utilities and energy service companies from Croatia (HEP ESCO), France (EDF), Greece (PPC), Ireland (ESB), Italy (EVISO), Latvia (FORTUM), Romania (CEZ VANZARE) and Spain (NATURGY) are developing Energy Poverty Action plans that outline the innovative schemes and actions that they will implement to improve the living conditions of energy poor citizens. These schemes will facilitate the implementation of energy efficiency interventions at the household level and the foster the installation of renewable energy sources.
SocialWatt has supported utilities, energy suppliers and energy service companies to contribute to the fight against energy poverty, by building their capacity and providing them with three advanced decision support tools to support their work.

In particular, the following tools have been developed for and used by participating utilities, energy suppliers and energy service companies:
• ‘SocialWatt Analyser’ to Identify energy poor clients, using data held in-house, as well as information from social services and other open data sources;
• ‘SocialWatt Plan’ to support the development of Energy Poverty Action Plans, by identifying cost and risk optimal energy poverty schemes and actions; and
• ‘SocialWatt Check’ to support the monitoring and evaluation of the schemes being implemented.

A number of capacity building workshops have been organised that gave the opportunity to the SocialWatt utilities, energy suppliers and energy service companies to share their experience and knowledge, but also learn from best practices across Europe and from the experience of external experts and other stakeholders. The exchange of knowledge has been further facilitated through bilateral meetings. but also through partners participation to external events.

Furthermore, a wider stakeholder engagement has been actively pursued, and in particular the collaboration with social services and other key stakeholders that can facilitate the design and implementation of the schemes.

As a result, the eight SocialWatt energy stakeholders have developed their Energy Poverty Action Plan that describes the schemes that they will implement. A total of 22 energy poverty schemes have been designed and will be implemented before the end of the project.

Finally, numerous dissemination and communication activities have been implemented to promote SocialWatt objectives, outputs and results, disseminate best practices, and encourage the development of innovative schemes that trigger investments in energy efficiency/renewable energy and alleviate energy poverty.
In practice, SocialWatt employs a holistic and utility-centred approach towards energy poverty mitigation. Therefore, the expected results are numerous and include:

• Best practices and tools to identify energy poor households and develop schemes to alleviate energy poverty.
• Innovative schemes designed and implemented that aim to alleviate energy poverty in eight European countries.
• Replication of the schemes developed by working with other utilities and energy stakeholders in Europe.
• Enhanced collaboration of energy stakeholders with public authorities and social services to better design and implement energy poverty schemes.
• A reduced number of households affected by energy poverty due to energy efficiency interventions triggered.
• Significant energy savings, as a result of energy efficiency investments triggered.
• Increased uptake of renewable energy sources, as a result of investments triggered.
• Climate change mitigation, due to notable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

As such, SocialWatt is expected to improve the quality of life and health of people across Europe, by helping them improve the energy performance of their dwellings and encouraging them to adopt more sustainable energy habits, and ultimately escape energy poverty.
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