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Unveiling hidden energy poverty in a time of crisis: a methodological approach for national statistics

R. Barrella, J.C. Romero

In the book Living with energy poverty: Perspectives from the global North and South

Routledge, part of the Taylor & Francis Group, London, United Kingdom


2021 was, on the one hand, the year of the turning point of the COVID-19 pandemic and, on the other hand, the beginning of a global energy price crisis. The latter has had a very significant impact on households' energy bills. This chapter presents a proposal for a multidimensional approach to energy poverty at the national level. Thereafter, this methodology is applied to the 2021 Spanish case study. This analysis is performed by applying different metrics to the national HBS and SILC, especially focusing on the hidden face of this social issue, that is people who are under-consuming because of the lack of energy affordability. According to this work, in 2021, 6.7 million people (14.3% of the Spanish population) were unable to adequately warm their homes, and approximately 2 million households (10.3% of the total) suffered from severe hidden energy poverty according to the HEP indicator proposed in previous studies. The former indicator increased by 3.4% compared with the 2020 level, while the latter experienced an even more dramatic rise: its value has more than doubled with respect to 2020. All indications are that many families restrained their spending for fear of bills that became unaffordable overnight. Thus, many more households entered the dark abyss of extreme underconsumption and indoor discomfort during the winter, which suggests the urgency of implementing specific measures to mitigate this (until now) hidden face of energy poverty in Spain. This approach might be applied to other countries to unpack the energy poverty issue from a more comprehensive perspective.

Spanish layman's summary:

En este capítulo, proponemos un conjunto de indicadores de pobreza energética que podrían aplicarse a nivel nacional y regional que hace hincapié en la dimensión oculta de la pobreza energética, sin descuidar las demás. Todo ello se aplica finalmente al estudio de caso de un país de la UE: España.

English layman's summary:

In this chapter, we propose a set of energy poverty indicators that could be applied at the national and regional levels, which puts special emphasis on the hidden energy poverty dimension, without neglecting the others. All of this is finally applied to the case study of an EU country: Spain.

Keywords: energy poverty, indicators, hidden patterns, energy crisis, Spain

Editors: et al., ; Velasco Herrejón, P.

ISBN: 978-1032528182

DOI: DOI icon https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003408536-6

DOI of the book: DOI icon https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003408536

Published: 2023

R. Barrella, J.C. Romero, Unveiling hidden energy poverty in a time of crisis: a methodological approach for national statistics, in Living with energy poverty: Perspectives from the global North and South. Editors et al., ; Velasco Herrejón, P.. Ed. Routledge, part of the Taylor & Francis Group. London, United Kingdom, 2023.

    Research topics:
  • Energy poverty: indicators, policy and regulation


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