The Naturgy Foundation has become the only Spanish representative in the European SocialWatt project, which aims to develop innovative measures to identify vulnerable customers and implement actions that contribute to alleviating their situation of energy poverty, which is particularly linked to the energy efficiency in their homes.
The project, which has received funds from the European innovation and research programme Horizon 2020, consists of seven other energy companies which are leaders in their respective markets: EDF from France, ESB from Ireland, PPC from Greece, CEZ from Romania, HEP ESCO from Croatia, FORTUM from Lithuania, and EVISO from Italy.
“The Naturgy Foundation's participation in this European project is evidence of the value of the social action programmes being carried out by the Foundation as part of Naturgy’s Vulnerability Plan,” explained María Eugenia Coronado, managing director of the foundation.
“Energy rehabilitation in the homes of vulnerable families and education in efficiency are key lines of our proposals to help alleviate energy poverty in Spain, through programmes such as the Energy Rehabilitation Solidarity Fund, the Energy School and energy volunteering. Over 90,000 people have already benefited from these programmes,” said Coronado.
The technical organisations ICCS, IEECP, RAP, E7 and ISPE are also part of the project, bringing experience in the design and implementation of energy efficiency measures, actions to alleviate energy poverty and innovative financing schemes. The group is completed by Cáritas Austria, an organisation with experience in humanitarian aid and social service, and which is present in all the countries that form part of the project.
SocialWatt is developing tools to help energy service companies effectively identify homes in a situation of energy poverty, as well as to monitor the energy efficiency of these homes.
In accordance with Directive (EU) 2018/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council, EU countries must establish systems of obligations in this field to ensure that companies achieve annual energy savings in terms of annual sales to end consumers, with a specific focus on vulnerable homes.
Therefore, the aim of SocialWatt is to promote the development of these types of tools, which can be implemented by the companies in all the countries participating in the project.
In addition to the benefits in the fight against energy vulnerability, the project also aims to improve the relationship with administrations and social bodies, promote energy saving and renewable energy sources, and mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas effects.
Energy poverty in Europe
Energy poverty is generally understood as the inability of homes to maintain suitable levels of energy services at an affordable cost.
According to Eurostat, 57 million people in Europe cannot keep their home sufficiently warm during winter, 104 million people cannot keep their homes sufficiently comfortable during summer, 87 million people live in low-quality homes and 52 million people face delays when paying energy bills.
In Spain, according to the latest version of the National Strategy to Tackle Energy Poverty in Spain from 2018, the hidden energy poverty index (percentage of homes whose energy expense is lower than half the national average) was 11% of homes. Another indicator of this national monitoring revealed that 9.1% of the population had an inappropriate temperature in their home in winter.
The rationing of energy and the inability to maintain warm homes can lead to unhealthy living conditions, such as low indoor temperatures and dampness, which have negative effects on health. Energy poverty is also related to negative impacts on social inclusion and level of education.