It may seem surprising that an environmental sciences agency is engaged in addressing energy poverty, but Spain’s Asociación de Ciencias Ambientales (ACA) is keen to ensure a clean energy transition does not put more people at risk.
The ACA (Association of Environmental Sciences) began studying energy poverty in 2009. At present, it estimates 15% of people in Spain face energy poverty, and 900 000 per year have their electricity services cut because they cannot pay their bills. High energy costs, low income and inefficient buildings are key factors in energy poverty. But the ACA also found that people not being able to understand their energy bills—and having low knowledge about energy consumption—had a strong influence.
With in-house expertise on how energy efficiency can enable households to reduce consumption and benefit from clean energy, the ACA knew it could help. But it needed a distribution channel. And so, it developed the concept of Puntos de Información al Consumidor Energético (PICE Network / Energy Consumer Information Point Network).
With ACA as the hub, PICE networks link government agencies, NGOs and other social actors to deliver services locally. By leveraging the skills, knowledge and connections of all actors, the PICE networks facilitate the exchange of quality information about energy and the environment in multiple directions.
The networks have a strong focus the benefits of building energy efficiency, which include reducing the energy vulnerability of low-income households, boosting local economies (through job creation, lower unemployment subsidies, and additional tax revenues) and protecting the environment (via reduced CO2 emissions and lower energy demand).
The clean energy transition must, says the ACA, include mechanisms to support the most vulnerable populations, who generally contribute less to climate change than richer segments of society. In fact, the transition should aim to reverse the likelihood that climate change will increase such inequalities.
Together with its PICE partners, the ACA aims to eradicate energy poverty in Spain by 2030.
José Luis López, Managing Director of Asociación de Ciencias Ambientales, is among 15 finalists in the Tackle Fuel Poverty Initiative launched by the Schneider Electric Foundation, the Ashoka Foundation, and Enel Group. Check out this video interview to learn more.