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Energy business schemes for and by vulnerable people

Extreme heatwaves in Summer, floods in Autumn, cold winters…for people in some parts of Europe, energy poverty has become an all-around-the-year worry. And it won’t go away through short-term measures only. For those affected, home is not a safe place anymore as they can’t afford to cool nor to heat their homes while living a decent life. How can we give everybody the right to energy and make sure the shift towards a local renewable energy supply leaves no one behind?

Structural changes in the energy supply are needed to truly improve the condition of vulnerable households. The energy market needs to become more democratic with a whole new business model to be invented: a scheme that provides renewable energy or energy efficiency services which meet everybody’s basic needs and that provide access to affordable, clean energy. We need to empower people in vulnerable situations to take ownership and benefit themselves from renewable energy production in any possible way.

That is why the team of city change-makers and other experts behind the POWER UP project are currently designing and testing novel business models with a social purpose. By providing energy services at the local level in 5 pilot cities in Spain, Czech Republic, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands, the project tries to find ways to fight energy poverty. As of the start, each pilot works with vulnerable households who become co-designers of these business schemes as ‘experts by experience’. Those new social energy players take very different shapes:

  • Valencia (Spain): the City is funder, supporter and replicator of energy communities with its energy office playing a central role.
  • Eeklo (Spain): the City finances social cooperative shares and leases them to vulnerable households – household become cooperative members and get access to affordable renewable energy.
  • Roznov (Czech Republic): the City launches a pioneering collective self-consumption in social housing and creates an energy one-stop-shop
  • UCSA (Italy) and Heerlen (The Netherlands): creation of energy communities involving social housing and school buildings

If you want to know more about the innovative schemes, you may either have a look at or meet the pilots on October 18 in Modena (9:30-12:00), in the framework of a workshop jointly organized with Cooltorise entitled ‘Energy for the invisible citizen: in search for lasting & fair solutions.’ Full agenda details here.

This will take place during Energy Cities’ Annual Conference that further insights on how to connect and engage people across your city for a just and clean transition to climate neutrality. Book your seat asap!

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