How to fight energy poverty by empowering citizens

11 July 2023

How to fight energy poverty by empowering citizens

As the energy crisis touches more and more people, it becomes even more important to empower people in vulnerable situations to take ownership and benefit from renewable energy production. Short-term support doesn’t go far enough. Structural changes in the energy supply are needed to truly improve the condition of vulnerable households. A whole new business scheme needs to be invented.

The sister projects POWER-UP and CEES co-organised with Sun4All a session for city experts shared how they currently design and test business models with a social purpose. We looked into entrepreneurial opportunities and challenges of several cities eager to innovate their energy services. European experiences around energy solidarity and a more democratic energy market were presented to inspire and hopefully to bring social innovation into the EU Commission’s current electricity market design reform.



The recent energy crisis taught us more than ever, that energy should be affordable.

But not only: each and every citizen, no matter their level of education, health, income and others should understand to which extent they can decide on energy matters in their lives.

And this means, we must think energy services also through the vulnerability lense as of the start. How can we do this as of the beginning, despite a very delayed transposition of the EU legislation in Member States? Many places all over Europe (notably the pilots in POWER UP, CEES and Sun4All) do experiment ways to design energy services and products that are made also with and for those vulnerable customers. Their experience proves that we need to

  • Clearly define who invests and who benefits through solid business models
  • Better connect energy and social policies, energy business and social business à without putting a too big load on energy communities’ shoulders
  • Define transparent and clear selection processes of beneficiaries (energy poor or others) – public procurement challenge
  • Increase skilled staff in municipalities and raise awareness of other players on the topic
  • Engaging vulnerable people is not only about empowerment, but a lot about learning from them

Image by "Picture by Kasto on Canva"

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This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement N°101032239.