Low Carbon Heat and Rural Fuel Poverty – Lessons from across Europe

Start Date: August 2016
Completion Date: November 2017
Grant Holders: Community Energy Plus
Main Contact: Dr Tim Jones, Chief Executive, Jenny Hannam, Project Officer: Renewables and Communities
Email: Jennifer@cep.org.uk


This study examines the role of low carbon heat and the potential for it to address fuel poverty, particularly in rural locations. Best practice examples have been sourced from EU member states, which are leading in both the deployment of low carbon heat and with low reported fuel poverty levels. A review of barriers to the UK has been compiled and learning experiences drawn, to inform next steps in the low carbon heat agenda.

Final report

Research summary

A number have additional resources have been produced, including a policy brief, best practice guide, low carbon heat poster and webinar. These resources can be downloaded here.

Masters of Research dissertation: Policy heterogeneity in fuel poverty alleviation – a comparative analysis of Germany and the United Kingdom

Completion Date November 2015
Grant Holders: Masters student: Andreas Schneller. Supervised by Dr Michael Mason, Associate Professor in Environmental Geography, London School of Economics and Political Science.
Main Contact Dr Michael Mason
Email: m.mason@lse.ac.uk


Fuel poverty, the inability to maintain an adequate level of warmth at a reasonable cost, is a social phenomenon which exemplifies the difficulties that policy makers face in integrating social and environmental policies.  This paper will demonstrate that fuel policy is prevalent in both Germany and the UK. However, each nation has adapted highly contrasting responses to alleviate the issue. In order to identify and discuss the varying national patterns and approaches, this paper applies the method of a cross-national comparative analysis. The analysis will be informed by a theoretical framework which embodies theories of the policy-making process. Identifying factors of policy heterogeneity in fuel poverty alleviation is the primary aim of this paper. In addition, lessons will be drawn from the UK experience in defining, measuring and targeting fuel poverty in Germany.


Download Schneller dissertation

European fuel poverty measurement – pilot project (Western Europe)

Start Date August 2013
Completion Date April 2014
Grant Holders: University of York
Main Contact Harriet Thomson
Email: email: Hrt500@york.ac.uk


At the European level, there is no dedicated household survey of fuel/energy poverty, and an absence of standardised household fuel expenditure data. In addition, knowledge about fuel poverty is at an emergent and fragmented stage in many countiries, leading to inconsistencies in the measurement of fuel poverty.  To address these two issues, this project will:

  • Develop and pilot a household survey of fuel poverty in eight EU countries, with English, French and German language versions;
  • Create a toolkit to promote best practice in measuring fuel poverty;
  • Produce a final report with recommendations for the design of future EU household surveys of fuel poverty.

Final report, research summary and toolkits in English, French and German:

Download German fuel poverty toolkit
Download English fuel poverty toolkit
Download French fuel poverty toolkit
Download final report
Download research summary

EU Fuel Poverty Network

Start Date August 2012
Completion Date September 2012
Grant Holders: University of York
Main Contact Harriet Thomson
Email: Hrt500@york.ac.uk


The EU Fuel Poverty Network was established in December 2011 in order to bring together researchers and practitioners working in the field of fuel poverty across the European Union (EU) via the means of an internet presence at www.fuelpoverty.eu

This project aims to further develop the EU Fuel Poverty Network by:           Creating a database of European fuel poverty resources and a website interface that allows visitors to search for documents by key word and country; and populating the database with all available resources concerning fuel poverty across each Member State of the EU.

Project summary

Download EU Fuel Poverty Network Summary

Useful Links: EU Fuel Poverty website

Masters of Research dissertation: Qualifying and quantifying fuel poverty across the 27 EU states

Start Date March 2011
Completion Date November 2011
Grant Holders: Masters student: Harriet Thomson, Department of Social Policy and Social Work, University of York
Main Contact Dr Carolyn Snell, Lecturer in Social and Environmental Policy
Email: Email: cjs130@york.ac.uk


Masters dissertation

Traditionally, fuel poverty has been regarded as a British and Irish phenomenon, however, with the accession of numerous countries to the European Union, rising fuel prices, and the move towards a single liberalised energy market, fuel poverty is likely to become an increasing concern for the European Union as a whole. However, knowledge regarding fuel poverty on a European level is limited, with only two published comparative studies. As both studies used data from 1994 to 1997, there is a large gap in knowledge regarding fuel poverty in EU Member States post-1997.

This dissertation aims to fill a gap in existing knowledge by considering the question: how is fuel poverty conceptualised across the EU, and what levels of fuel poverty exist?  The research question will be addressed in two ways.  Firstly, existing and emerging definitions of fuel poverty across the member states will be explored, alongside an examination of whether and how these definitions are linked to social inclusion agendas.  This exploration will be conducted through an analysis of literature surrounding fuel poverty at the EU level in addition to existing national fuel poverty literature in individual member states. Due to the emerging nature of fuel poverty in some member states, a comprehensive grey literature search will be undertaken.   Secondly, secondary analysis of the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) will be conducted in order to quantify fuel poverty in the EU.

The dissertation contributes to Professor Bradshaw’s ongoing research project ‘Comparing Poverty and Living Standards, Family Change and Employment in the EU’.

Master’s student’s name: Harriet Thomson

Supervised by Jonathan Bradshaw and Carolyn Snell, The Department of Social Policy and Social Work, The University of York.

Full thesis

Download thesis