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Public defense of Ana Stojilovska's PhD Dissertation: Synergies between heating and energy poverty - the injustice of heat

Ana Stojilovska
Friday, September 24, 2021, 12:30 pm – 3:30 pm

You are cordially invited to the Doctoral Defense of Ana Stojilovska 

Synergies between heating and energy poverty - the injustice of heat

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Meeting ID: 927 0751 6993
Passcode: 427602


Defense committee:

Supervisor: Dr Michael LaBelle, CEU
Internal member: Dr. Alan Watt, CEU
External member: Dr. Saska Petrova, SEED, University of Manchester
Opponent: Dr. Neil Simcock, Liverpool John Moores University
Chair: Dr. Austin Nichols, CEU 


The energy transition offers the opportunity for designing the energy systems of tomorrow, but due to its focus on technologies and misalignment with social policies, it might exclude energy vulnerable citizens. Energy poverty is a spatially depended and structurally embedded phenomenon, affecting heating as a space where multiple vulnerabilities clash. There is a knowledge gap about the complex relationship of energy poverty and the heat market, in the context of the energy transition in different European countries.   

Through the lenses of energy justice, I explored the synergies between energy poverty and the type of heating in developing and developed European contexts. The conceptual framework applied distributive, recognition, and procedural energy justice to study the relationship between energy poverty and the type of heating. The framework was enriched with energy culture, coping, right to energy, and institutional good governance literature. I used a comparative case study with maximum variation sampling of an ‘eastern’ and ‘western’ European country enhanced by mixed qualitative and qualitative methods and a focus on the lived experience of the energy-poor. The studied countries North Macedonia and Austria have diverse levels of energy poverty, energy markets, standards of living, and socio-political legacy. I analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively the empirical data of 300 phone surveys with households; 219 online interviews with households; 54 interviews with stakeholders, and several documents in both counties. 

Not having installed energy efficiency measures, having a non-central type of heating, and living in large, old dwellings in the rural areas predict energy poverty in both countries. The material deprivation is experienced by citizens without a university education, who are a non-majority population, women, pensioners, ill persons, and large or single-person households. The material deprivation is visible through the coping strategies aimed at reducing energy needs and warmth compensation. Hidden energy poverty indicators include the energy market structure and ownership, how energy utilities treat citizens, the strength of the social welfare system, and the availability of support. While heating is relevant in both countries, energy poverty as an experience of material deprivation affects all energy services. Electric heating and fuelwood are more related to energy poverty, while central forms of heating are less related, although they might be related to injustices. 

Energy poverty is a vulnerable space determined by infrastructural path-dependencies and projected into technological inequalities that further deepen its spatial vulnerability. Energy poverty is at the core an experience close to material deprivation visible in the path-dependently determined fuels and technologies to maximize the coping of energy-poor households to cultivate a culturally distinct life on the subsistence level. The institutional good governance and the consideration for the right to energy principle determine the ability of citizens to enjoy affordable, modern, and efficient energy services, as well as to include their voices and needs in that process. The relationship between energy poverty and the type of heating is highly complex. The energy transition needs to be a human-focused, inclusive and empowering socially just energy transformation which brings closer the visionary concept of energy justice to citizens.  

Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy