Working group 1: integration - Transforming the state of the art
WG1 aims to scope the state of the art in energy poverty scholarship. Based on an interdisciplinary expert network, the group reviews energy poverty approaches, both from a research and from a policy perspective. Its main goal is to analyse the conceptual issues arising from the variety of possible energy poverty approaches and from the diversity of energy poverty problematics that can be observed through COST regions. The group also works on understanding the driving forces of energy poverty. The group’s purpose is to develop a common analytical framework that would (1) integrate the state of the art, (2) reach consensus on the elements involved in the conceptualisation of EP and (3) surpass the state of the art. The main activities of the group include: the publication of a review document aimed at decision-makers and researchers, the organisation of regional workshops with key stakeholders and the organisation of two postgraduate and early stage researcher workshops led by younger scholars, to draw in newly emerging academics and practitioners in relevant fields.
Working group 2: Indicators – Developing an operational European energy poverty framework
WG2 considers the operationalisation of a multi-scalar, EU-wide framework on energy poverty. The WG examines key energy poverty detection issues such as how existing measures capture susceptibility to energy poverty, in terms of energy access and needs, energy affordability, social norms, everyday practices, and technical infrastructure. The group aims to create an interdisciplinary expert network tasked with developing ways of monitoring at regional, national and COST-wide levels, using available and emerging data sources. The group is engaged in the production of toolkits on how to identify and measure energy poverty, incorporating inputs from Eurostat and national statistical offices. It facilitates access to new expertise and skills through Short Term Scientific Missions (STSMs) by Early Career Investigators (ECIs). These involve host institutions such as research units that use innovative methods to measure and monitor energy poverty, the recently-established European Union Energy Poverty Observatory as a ‘go to’ point for statistical data and national reports on energy poverty in the EU, and Eurostat.
To further promote knowledge sharing and cross-fertilisation of work on energy poverty, the WG holds regular deliberative workshops with key stakeholders and decision-makers, hosted in COST regions by rotation. During the lifespan of ENGAGER, this WG also aims to host two training schools focusing on energy poverty concepts, data, and measurement methodologies, as well as a postgraduate and ESR workshop, organised by ESRs to draw in emerging researchers in relevant fields. A travelling element is envisaged in the last of these so as to engage participating countries and constituencies.
Working Group 3: Dialogues – Co-producing emancipatory research and practice
WG3 is generating a hub for European dialogues between ENGAGER, on the one hand, and relevant EU policy institutions, NGOs, academia, businesses and the social innovation community, on the other. It aims to establish inclusive engagement fora in various regions of the COST network in and beyond Europe while also engaging with representatives of vulnerable households and advocacy groups to achieve a higher profile for the rights of vulnerable customers among energy suppliers, housing and planning agencies, and environmental groups. To do so the WG works on identifying and implementing new ways of engaging key stakeholders through new participatory methods such as deliberative mapping, open space technology and urban living labs, and provides training to selected actors on media skills and engaging in dialogue with stakeholders. These actions bring about new partnerships, exchange opportunities, and collaborations that feed into the work of other ENGAGER WGs. A distinct focus of the group is the exploration of governance practices surrounding the energy poor in all relevant policy areas, including low carbon transitions, energy efficiency, housing, social exclusion, and internal energy markets. It also investigates policy learning processes, with a focus on policy transfer and policy mobilities.
Working Group 4: Innovation – Introducing path-breaking perspectives to the understanding of energy poverty
WG4 is developing and consolidating knowledge around innovative solutions and co-benefits for alleviating energy poverty. This is achieved by linking social concerns and support practices with more other innovations in energy transitions such as emerging ‘smart’ technologies, ‘sharing cities’, decentralised energy technologies and practices, citizen-led initiatives for community-level energy service provision, municipal and civic ownership of energy systems, as well as informal and formal support networks around energy poverty. It forges direct connections with innovative research and practice in domains such as energy efficiency, welfare provision, utility regulation, and public health, bringing in a social justice perspective. The group also explores the governance of such innovations, e.g. challenges and opportunities brought about by ground-breaking models of multi-agency involvement in addressing energy poverty.
The WG’s work emphasises the need to develop the multidimensional aspects of energy poverty and the cross-sectorial approach within the framework of the COST Action. Based on the diverse research and practical professional experiences of WG members, we address energy poverty as an issue of social justice in low carbon transitions, as a socio-technological issue, as a political and policy issue, as an issue of social inequalities in cities and thus housing policy. WG activities thus bridge socially less aware environmental and technological development with social policies less aware of environmental and technological concerns.