RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2016

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159 Beyond the triad: exploring the drivers of domestic energy deprivation (1)
Affiliation Energy Geographies Research Group
Convenor(s) Neil Simcock (The University of Manchester, UK)
Harriet Thomson (The University of Manchester, UK)
Saska Petrova (The University of Manchester, UK)
Stefan Bouzarovski (The University of Manchester, UK)
Chair(s) Saska Petrova (The University of Manchester, UK)
Timetable Thursday 01 September 2016, Session 1 (09:00 - 10:40)
Session abstract Domestic energy deprivation – which has often been recognised via the terms ‘fuel poverty’ and ‘energy poverty’ – is gaining increasing acceptance as a significant global policy issue. Commonly, the causes of energy poverty are considered through the ‘triad’ of high energy prices, poor housing efficiency, and low incomes. Recently, however, this theorisation has been critiqued as too simplistic, ignoring factors such as cultural norms, the dynamic and evolving nature of household needs and circumstances, and underlying socio-technical, spatial and political issues that shape housing efficiency and energy prices. Recent uses of relational geography (Buzar, 2007), assemblage thinking (Harrison and Popke, 2011; Day and Walker, 2013), and vulnerability frameworks (Bouzarovski and Petrova, 2015) to theorise energy poverty have been useful in highlighting more complex and nuanced issues, and indicate fruitful directions for further research. This session seeks to build on such research and explore new approaches to understanding the drivers of domestic energy deprivation, drawing on studies from across the world.
Linked Sessions Beyond the triad: exploring the drivers of domestic energy deprivation (2)
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2016@rgs.org
Multiple vulnerabilities? Interrogating the spatial distribution of fuel poverty measures in England
Caitlin Robinson (The University of Manchester, UK)
In comparison to theorising fuel poverty as a combination of high energy prices, low income and household inefficiency, a vulnerability framework allows for a more explicit focus upon the unique, and often complex, spatial patterns associated with domestic energy deprivation. The framing draws attention to how vulnerability dimensions, including access to energy, energy efficiency, needs and the flexibility to meet these needs, are unevenly distributed across space (Bouzarovksi and Petrova 2015). In England, the Department for Energy and Climate Change recognises the importance of the spatial distribution of fuel poverty, producing yearly estimates at Lower Super Output Area scale. However, despite the recent replacement of the 10% measure of fuel poverty with a Low Income High Cost measure (LIHC), both measures are based upon the narrow triad of drivers. This paper uses GIS methodologies to compare the spatial distribution of fuel poverty yielded by the 10% and LIHC measures. Spatial, quantitative datasets that represent wider vulnerability dimensions are also integrated into the analysis. This allows for consideration of whether the spatial distribution of fuel poverty using the revised LIHC measure reflects the increased understanding within research of the complexity of domestic energy deprivation, or whether the focus of existing measures upon a narrow triad of drivers obscures particular spatially-constituted vulnerabilities. These findings allow for reflection upon the success of area-based targeting using measures that rely upon simplistic theorisations of fuel poverty. They also provide inspiration for how the spatial distribution of vulnerability to fuel poverty might be mapped in future.
Lighting up rural Kenya: Lessons learnt from rural electrification programmes
Dorice Agol (University of East Anglia, UK)
Securing reliable energy supplies is certainly critical for socio-economic development. The continued rise of Kenya's rural economies which demand more energy has led to policy and institutional reforms in the energy sector. A notable outcome from energy reform processes in Kenya was the enactment of the Rural Electrification Authority (REA) in 2007 whose mandate is to accelerate rural electrification. Since then, several rural electrification programmes have been initiated across the country with the aim of providing electricity in the rural areas for socio-economic growth and development. Power is provided through grid extension and off grid supplies (e.g. renewable sources) to public entities (e.g. schools, health facilities, markets) as well as households. Based on an analytical review and appraisal of rural electrification programmes, field visits, key informant interviews and focus group discussions, findings show that these programmes have improved access to electricity in some rural areas in Kenya. For example, over 50% out of 150,000 facilities across the country received electricity connection by 2015 and this extended to households which are located around these facilities. But while these programmes are directly addressing the energy deprivation at institutional and household levels, there are quite a number of challenges such as lack of affordability, logistics of grid connection to dispersed households, property rights and land tenure, extreme weather, politics and vandalism. This paper highlights the opportunities and practical challenges of providing access to electricity in rural areas through government led programmes. It presents lessons learnt and offers key recommendations for reducing the energy poverty in the context of developing countries and beyond.
Exploring the underpinnings of energy vulnerability in Central and Eastern Europe
Harriet Thomson (The University of Manchester, UK)
Neil Simcock (The University of Manchester, UK)
Saska Petrova (The University of Manchester, UK)
Stefan Bouzarovski (The University of Manchester, UK)
Energy service poverty is a growing issue in many countries across the world. However, there is a need for more work to understand the driving factors and contextual specificities that shape householder vulnerability to the condition. This paper will address this gap by presenting results of in-depth research with households from four cities in Central and Eastern Europe: Gdańsk (Poland), Prague (Czech Republic), Budapest (Hungary) and Skopje (Republic of Macedonia). It combines both quantitative analyses of surveys with around 2,500 households, and ethnographic methods (in-depth interviews, personal diaries, energy efficiency audits) with a sample of 140 households. By comparing and contrasting results from diverse contexts through a mixed-methods approach, the analysis provides new insights into the driving forces behind energy poverty, including the ways that cultural norms and material conditions influence the vulnerability of households. It will further explore the variety of strategies that householders attempt to 'cope' with energy poverty and the impact that this has on their well-being.
Energy poverty in Balkans – adjusting policy response to socio-economical drivers
Slavica Robić (Society for Sustainable Development Design)
Ivana Rogulj (Society for Sustainable Development Design, Croatia)
Branko Ančić (Institute of Social Research in Zagreb, Croatia)
Increase in energy prices and shift to liberalized energy market poses a significant problem for many families in Balkans. While focus on energy poverty is rising, most of the approaches do not take into consideration cultural norms and historical inheritance. When designing policy solutions it is crucial to examine drivers for successful policy implementation in different context while aiming for cost effective solutions. Post-socialist countries are especially vulnerable to energy poverty as a result of many years of regulated and heavily subsidized energy prices and non-efficient housing stock. Different energy policy solutions, i.e. EPC and feed-in-tariffs, have proven to be less effective in Balkans than in Western Europe. The causes to that might vary, but it is likely that historical and economical heritage may play an impeding role for successful policy implementation. Vulnerable energy consumers, those affected by energy poverty, are facing adverse impacts on health, reduced ability to participate in community activities and general inability to meet basic needs. It is of utmost importance to find policy solutions which will enable easing of burden for affected households. This article examines policy context and compares results of case study analyses undertaken in Balkan countries aiming to identify possible policy solutions to cost effectively tackle energy poverty in the region.
Discussant
Peter Smith (National Energy Action, UK)
Discussant