Can Positive Energy Districts help to mitigate energy poverty and bring about a just transition?

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Submission Summary
The Strategic Energy Transition (SET) Plan from JPI Urban Europe proposes the creation of 100 Positive Energy Districts (PEDs) in Europe by 2025 with a stated goal of urban decarbonization. These are highly energy efficient residential urban areas that are powered entirely through renewables. PED creation is meant to be guided by principles of quality of life, sustainability, and inclusiveness (specifically focusing on affordability and energy poverty prevention). But do stakeholders consider these principles or are PEDs largely unaffordable and excluding those most in need? Using energy vulnerability factors and an energy justice framework, this article sheds light on how the topic of energy poverty mitigation is experienced and picked up by PED stakeholders. Stakeholders from PEDs in a number of European countries were interviewed in order to determine how and to what extent they approached the topic of inclusivity, with a focus on energy poverty reduction. This included the themes of gentrification, financing for retrofitting, the use of community energy initiatives and energy advice, all themes which were identified as significant factors to consider in an EU Horizon2020 project. The contribution of this talk to academic research is towards the framing of energy poverty in European urban areas, focusing on the perceptions of key stakeholders. It also continues debate on how PEDs may differ from other forms of technologically innovative living spaces which do not explicitly include social aspects. Furthermore, this offers a potential contribution for informing policymaking in PED replication with a focus on the synergistic aims of both decarbonization and energy poverty mitigation.
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Research Assistant/ PhD Candidate. Smart Beejs Project, University of Basel Switzerland

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