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Special Issue "Multidimensional Perspectives for Energy Poverty Sustainable Mitigation"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Energy Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2021) | Viewed by 13903

Special Issue Editors

Dr. João Pedro Gouveia
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
CENSE—Center for Environmental and Sustainability Research, NOVA School of Science and Technology, NOVA University of Lisbon, Portugal
Interests: energy poverty; building energy demand; energy efficiency in buildings; renewable energy technologies; energy modeling; energy demand projections; low-carbon energy technologies; climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies
Dr. Ricardo Barbosa
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Engineering, University of Minho, 4800-058 Guimarães, Portugal
Interests: energy efficiency in buildings; buildings renovation; energy poverty; nZEB buildings; building physics; energy simulation; sustainable construction and life cycle analysis; policy instruments; climate adaptation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Energy poverty is a growing societal issue that puts the welfare of many citizens on both sides of the global north–south divide at risk. It is recognized as a multidimensional problem which exceeds individual households and has linkages and interdependencies with the economic, technological, and social systems with multiple geographical specificities. Connecting sustainable energy transitions, energy equity issues, and energy poverty is therefore a new challenge at hand.

This Special Issue will be composed of a selection of papers addressing a wide range of approaches and tools to mitigate energy poverty while also taking into account sustainability. Authors from different disciplines such as geography, sociology, economics, engineering, and other related disciplines are invited to submit their papers. Covered topics could be related, but are not limited, to the following topics:

  • Innovative solutions to tackle energy poverty;
  • Policy innovations;
  • Energy efficiency approaches;
  • Sustainable building renovation;
  • Assessment of indoor thermal comfort and energy use in vulnerable households;
  • Health effects of energy poverty;
  • Methodologies and metrics for energy poverty characterization and monitoring;
  • Climate change vulnerability (summer and winter problems);
  • Sustainable energy access;
  • Energy justice;
  • Energy governance;
  • Energy use and social practices.

Dr. João Pedro Gouveia
Dr. Ricardo Barbosa
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • sustainable energy
  • buildings energy performance
  • lived experience
  • energy use
  • winter and summer vulnerability
  • innovative solutions
  • energy access

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

Article
Impact of Urban Re-Densification on Indoor Lighting Demand and Energy Poverty on the Equator, in the City of Quito
Sustainability 2022, 14(7), 3783; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14073783 - 23 Mar 2022
Viewed by 490
Abstract
Human wellbeing and their quality of life is linked to daylight. However, this is being hindered by the rapid growth of cities, promoted by regulatory frameworks and the interests of property developers that seek high-rise densification and re-densification of certain urban areas, jeopardizing [...] Read more.
Human wellbeing and their quality of life is linked to daylight. However, this is being hindered by the rapid growth of cities, promoted by regulatory frameworks and the interests of property developers that seek high-rise densification and re-densification of certain urban areas, jeopardizing access to daylight. This article proposes a methodology to evaluate the impact of urban re-densification on indoor lighting demand in high-rise buildings in Ecuador and its relationship with energy poverty. It analyzes the urban and building features of Quito, considering the location conditions of buildings and using simulation tools to explore solar irradiance reductions on the façade. It also analyzes increases in lighting demand, while determining the extreme conditions, considering an increase in energy consumption, the average salary, and the Ten Percent Rule. The results show that daylight obstructions and umbral cones generated when facing a high-rise re-densification scenario in the city reduce daylight by between 40% and 80%, generating increases of between 2% and 498% in lighting demand when compared to an unobstructed scenario. These re-densification scenarios may cause significant social problems associated with energy poverty. In conclusion, according to the Ten Percent Rule, buildings should be limited to four stories for streets under 10 m wide, between four and six stories for those between 10 and 14 m, and between six and nine stories for streets that are between 14 and 18 m wide. This research seeks to help public policy developers in making future decisions about risks that are currently not considered in urban planning and that may contradict sustainable development goals. Full article
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Article
Will Plans to Ease Energy Poverty Go Up in Smoke? Assessing the Hungarian NECP through the Lens of Solid Fuel Users’ Vulnerabilities
Sustainability 2021, 13(23), 13047; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132313047 - 25 Nov 2021
Viewed by 675
Abstract
Hungary has one of the highest incidences of energy poverty in the European Union, and a high share of Hungarian low-income households rely on solid fuels. This paper first maps the energy vulnerabilities of Hungarian solid fuel users using six energy vulnerability factors. [...] Read more.
Hungary has one of the highest incidences of energy poverty in the European Union, and a high share of Hungarian low-income households rely on solid fuels. This paper first maps the energy vulnerabilities of Hungarian solid fuel users using six energy vulnerability factors. The mapping underlines that solid fuel users are more exposed to energy vulnerability than average households. This is followed by an analysis of energy-poverty-related objectives and measures outlined in the Hungarian National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP), a key policy document of the green energy transition. The paper outlines that the NECP fails to comply with the requirement of setting energy poverty alleviation objectives. Furthermore, the outlined energy-poverty-related policies and measures fail to provide systematic solutions to energy-poverty drivers, especially those solid fuel users’ vulnerabilities. Hungary’s general antiegalitarian policy environment and the weak design of energy poverty measures in the NECP suggest severe deficiency regarding a just energy transition guarantee. A just energy transition in Hungary is therefore endangered by the fact that EU energy poverty alleviation requirements fall under soft-law coordination mechanisms that make such requirements hardly enforceable in a member state with an antipoor policy bias that is reluctant to tackle energy poverty. Full article
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Article
Mapping Regional Vulnerability to Energy Poverty in Poland
Sustainability 2021, 13(19), 10694; https://doi.org/10.3390/su131910694 - 26 Sep 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 932
Abstract
Raising concerns about the effectiveness of the energy poverty policy actions in Poland, such as Clean Air and Stop Smog, brings forward the need to apply different strategies to identify the energy poor. More than 13.7% of Polish households were energy poor in [...] Read more.
Raising concerns about the effectiveness of the energy poverty policy actions in Poland, such as Clean Air and Stop Smog, brings forward the need to apply different strategies to identify the energy poor. More than 13.7% of Polish households were energy poor in 2018 according to the ability-to-keep-home-warm indicator. This study proposes enhancing the model-based approach to measure households’ energy poverty. Our goal is to assess regional vulnerability to energy poverty in Poland. The study relies on three national datasets and is conducted in two steps. The Energy Consumption Survey (2018) and the Household Budget Survey (2018) provide data for modeling household’s energy poverty in the first step. The Local Data Bank (2019) gives information on the potential factors increasing regional vulnerability to energy poverty evaluated in the second step. We apply multiple linear regression to identify energy-poor households and principal components analysis to examine the regions’ vulnerability factors. As a result, we produce several maps showing the spatial distribution of vulnerability to energy poverty in 380 Polish districts. Our results indicate that some northern, southern and eastern districts in Poland are primary targets of energy poverty policy actions. Full article
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Article
Tackling Energy Poverty through Collective Advisory Assemblies and Electricity and Comfort Monitoring Campaigns
Sustainability 2021, 13(17), 9671; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13179671 - 27 Aug 2021
Viewed by 1041
Abstract
The present work aims to describe and analyze the results of the interventions carried out in the Barcelona pilot site of the EmpowerMed project. The overall objective of EmpowerMed is to tackle energy poverty and to help improve the health of people in [...] Read more.
The present work aims to describe and analyze the results of the interventions carried out in the Barcelona pilot site of the EmpowerMed project. The overall objective of EmpowerMed is to tackle energy poverty and to help improve the health of people in coastal areas of Mediterranean countries, with a particular focus on women. The main support approach implemented in Barcelona is Collective Advisory Assemblies (CAA), in the framework of Alliance against Energy Poverty. CAA is an innovative, collaborative empowering engagement tool that offers an alternative to the more traditional one-off individual household advice and support approaches. CAAs take place together with a monitoring campaign where: electricity consumption is analyzed to optimize the supply contracts, and indoor environmental comfort to provide recommendations for wellbeing improvement. Through the different approaches, a characterization of the people that have participated in the Barcelona pilot site was completed, from a socioeconomic, energy, thermal comfort and air quality perspective. Additionally, it was compared with a group of energy poverty non-affected households, which are involved in the monitoring campaign. Finally, the impact was quantified in terms of empowerment of energy poverty population and, potential economic savings. Full article
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Article
Energy Poverty among College Students in Japan in a Survey of Students’ Knowledge, Attitude and Practices towards Energy Use
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8484; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158484 - 29 Jul 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 848
Abstract
In order to investigate the problem of energy/fuel poverty in Japan, we examined the knowledge, attitude, and practices towards energy usage of a random group of 447 college students in an international university in Japan. The majority of the students were living independently [...] Read more.
In order to investigate the problem of energy/fuel poverty in Japan, we examined the knowledge, attitude, and practices towards energy usage of a random group of 447 college students in an international university in Japan. The majority of the students were living independently in private or shared accommodations, depended on portable heating/cooling appliances, and were billed directly for their electricity usage. The responses of 205 Japanese and 236 non-Japanese students to a detailed survey about energy consumption for daily living and its cost were collected. The examined variables included students’ monthly income/allowance, energy bills, attributes of energy use including room temperature setting for cooling in summer and heating in winter, the students’ awareness of energy fees, and their attitude towards energy use vs. saving in energy costs. The results indicate that energy bills were perceived as too high by most non-Japanese students as compared to Japanese students, while for both Japanese and non-Japanese students there was a positive correlation between monthly income/allowance and energy bills. The findings suggest that energy poverty is common among college students living independently in Japan, such that, in future research, they may be included in the category of vulnerable households with respect to energy poverty. Full article
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Article
Behavior Patterns, Energy Consumption and Comfort during COVID-19 Lockdown Related to Home Features, Socioeconomic Factors and Energy Poverty in Madrid
Sustainability 2021, 13(11), 5949; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13115949 - 25 May 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1839
Abstract
During spring 2020, the world was shocked at the imminent global spread of SARS-CoV-2, resorting to measures such as domestic confinement. This meant the reconfiguration of life in an unusual space; the home. However, not all households experienced it in the same way; [...] Read more.
During spring 2020, the world was shocked at the imminent global spread of SARS-CoV-2, resorting to measures such as domestic confinement. This meant the reconfiguration of life in an unusual space; the home. However, not all households experienced it in the same way; many of them were vulnerable. A general increase in energy consumption and discomfort in many cases, led these families to suffer the ravages of confinement. This study analyzes the energy and comfort situation for the Madrid (Spain) population, according to the configuration of the homes, the characteristics of the dwellings, the vulnerability index by district, and energy poverty (measured with the 10% threshold of energy expenditure of home incomes). The results show a greater exposure, in confinement, of vulnerable and energy-poor households to scenarios of discomfort in the home, to which they could not respond, while energy consumption inevitably increased. Driven by need, energy-poor homes applied certain saving strategies, mainly resorting to thermal adaptation with clothing. This study shows the risk these households experienced in the face of an extreme situation, and invites reflection on preventive and containment measures that aim to avoid harming the disadvantaged in the future; harm that would also entail serious consequences on the health of their cohabitants. Full article
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Article
Cooling Degree Models and Future Energy Demand in the Residential Sector. A Seven-Country Case Study
Sustainability 2021, 13(5), 2987; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052987 - 09 Mar 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2521
Abstract
The intensity and duration of hot weather and the number of extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, are increasing, leading to a growing need for space cooling energy demand. Together with the building stock’s low energy performance, this phenomenon may also increase households’ [...] Read more.
The intensity and duration of hot weather and the number of extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, are increasing, leading to a growing need for space cooling energy demand. Together with the building stock’s low energy performance, this phenomenon may also increase households’ energy consumption. On the other hand, the low level of ownership of cooling equipment can cause low energy consumption, leading to a lack of indoor thermal comfort and several health-related problems, yet increasing the risk of energy poverty in summer. Understanding future temperature variations and the associated impacts on building cooling demand will allow mitigating future issues related to a warmer climate. In this respect, this paper analyses the effects of change in temperatures in the residential sector cooling demand in 2050 for a case study of nineteen cities across seven countries: Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Israel, Portugal, Slovakia, and Spain, by estimating cooling degree days and hours (CDD and CDH). CDD and CDH are calculated using both fixed and adaptive thermal comfort temperature thresholds for 2020 and 2050, understanding their strengths and weaknesses to assess the effects of warmer temperatures. Results suggest a noticeable average increase in CDD and CDH values, up to double, by using both thresholds for 2050, with a particular interest in northern countries where structural modifications in the building stock and occupants’ behavior should be anticipated. Furthermore, the use of the adaptive thermal comfort threshold shows that the projected temperature increases for 2050 might affect people’s capability to adapt their comfort band (i.e., indoor habitability) as temperatures would be higher than the maximum admissible values for people’s comfort and health. Full article
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Article
Improving Energy Poverty Measurement in Southern European Regions through Equivalization of Modeled Energy Costs
Sustainability 2020, 12(14), 5721; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12145721 - 16 Jul 2020
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 1791
Abstract
In many European countries, energy poverty is measured on the basis of real energy bills, as theoretical energy costs are hard to calculate. The UK is an exception—the data inputs for the Low Income-High Cost (LIHC) indicator are based on reasonable energy costs, [...] Read more.
In many European countries, energy poverty is measured on the basis of real energy bills, as theoretical energy costs are hard to calculate. The UK is an exception—the data inputs for the Low Income-High Cost (LIHC) indicator are based on reasonable energy costs, these data are collected through specially designed surveys, often an intensive and costly procedure. Approaches which calculate energy needs are valid when energy bill data are unreliable or where households restrict consumption. In this analysis, energy poverty levels are evaluated for Greece, the municipality of Évora (Portugal), and the Basque Country (Spain): energy bills are modeled based on building energy performance data and other energy uses, and adjusted according to socio-demographic variables. To this end, equivalization weights are calculated using socio-economic data from the aforementioned southern European countries/regions. Data are analyzed to compare measurements with actual versus modeled bills using the Ten-Percent Rule (TPR) and Hidden Energy Poverty (HEP) against twice the median (2M) indicator, enhancing the identification of households with low energy consumption. In conclusion, theoretical energy needs can be combined with socio-demographic data instead of actual energy bills to measure energy poverty in a simplified way, avoiding the problem of targeting households that under consume. Full article
Article
Affordability, Accessibility, and Awareness in the Adoption of Liquefied Petroleum Gas: A Case-Control Study in Rural India
Sustainability 2020, 12(11), 4790; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114790 - 11 Jun 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2022
Abstract
Interventions in the clean cooking sector have focused on improved biomass stoves in a bid to address household air pollution (HAP) in low- and middle-income countries. These initiatives have not delivered adequate health and environmental benefits owing to the less than optimal performance [...] Read more.
Interventions in the clean cooking sector have focused on improved biomass stoves in a bid to address household air pollution (HAP) in low- and middle-income countries. These initiatives have not delivered adequate health and environmental benefits owing to the less than optimal performance of improved biomass stoves. There is an urgency to transition communities to cleaner cooking systems such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to reduce the prevalence of HAP. Adoption of LPG also has challenges. This case-control cross-sectional study with 510 households examines how affordability, accessibility, and awareness (3As) are associated with LPG adoption in rural poor households of Andhra Pradesh, a state of India. Using binomial logistic regression analyses, the study examines the association of 3As with LPG adoption, adjusting for demographic predictors. Results show disparities in LPG adoption owing to affordability, accessibility, and awareness. Household income is positively associated with LPG adoption. Easy availability of biomass deters households from adopting LPG. Concerns for LPG safety reduces likelihood of LPG adoption. On the other hand, attending awareness campaigns on clean cooking benefits is strongly associated with LPG adoption. Awareness drives, primarily targeted marketing campaigns, could help expand LPG coverage among poorer households. This paper offers insights into the determinants of clean fuel adoption with implications for resource-poor settings across the world to advance energy justice and address energy poverty. Full article
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