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Reduce energy poverty

Nowadays, energy is one of the most important things for humanity, without it we are lost and it would be a lot more difficult to live our lives3.

The World Economic Forum defined energy poverty as the lack of access to sustainable modern energy services and products7.

In order to reduce energy poverty, SDG 7 has been created with the purpose of ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all so that everyone may have an easier everyday life1.


In other words, everyone should have easy access to clean energy, therefore warm water, and power no matter where located in the world1.


Even though in the developed countries ensuring access to energy might be easier than in developing countries, 759 million people cannot have access to electricity and 3/4 are living in Africa. Other analyses reveal that 2.6 billion people worldwide are utilizing a dangerous and inefficient cooking system1. These problems call for global actions in order to save energy, make it accessible to everyone and train people in how to consume energy more efficiently. Furthermore, people's focus should shift to more renewable energy usage mostly in the heating and transport sectors1.

In 2019 in Europe, around 34 million households were unable to sustain proper indoor thermal comfort. Also in 2018, 104 million citizens were not able to make their homes comfortable during summer3. In the same year, 52 million European people encountered delays in paying energy bills4.

In Latin America, the percentage of energy poverty varies between 29% in Columbia and 98% in Haiti5. Thus, energy poverty still remains a critical issue in Europe as well as in developing countries3.

Let's take a look at a company working in the energy sector and their actions concerning energy poverty.


Enel is a quoted company that operates as an integrated electricity provider by generating, transmitting, distributing, and selling electricity, heat, and natural gas6. In 2020, the company counted 62 €bn revenues and it had around 66.438 employees6. The company is active in Europe, North America and Canada, South America, Africa, Russia and Korea6.

In 2018, Enel had approximately 68 million energy customers worldwide and 73 million end customers2. 25mn customers were in Italy, 10mn Spain, 3mn Romania and 22mn in Latin America2.

In the same year, Enel was engaged in diverse programs to provide affordable energy both in developed countries and developing ones2.

For example, in Chile the company launched a program called "Plug and Play". Enel developed a micro-network powered by photovoltaic energy with a hydrogen accumulation system, that can guarantee a 24-hour supply of green energy anywhere without using diesel fuel2.

Moreover, in Latin America, Africa and Asia, Enel opened and made operative energy plants which used renewable energies. In these countries, the company is also lending renewable energy to private operators2.

Regarding Europe, Enel has different programs active in particular in Italy, Spain and Romania where energy poverty is still a big phenomenon2. Hereafters there are some examples:

  1. Enel Energy Volunteer Program is providing customers with specific advice on responsible energy consumption, distributing energy efficiency kits2. In 2018, 5.000 people were advised on how to manage their energy consumption efficiently, and therefore receiving cheaper bills to pay2. The program enabled an average of 30% cut on bills2.

  2. Enel assisted 23,000 people who struggled to pay their bills by training them on responsible energy use and, therefore, cutting their bills2.

  3. In Aragona (Spain) Enel reduced the bills and energy consumption of 317 families (for a total of 1,000 individuals) who usually struggled to pay the bills on time due to the excessive usage, thus expensive amount2. This was reached by analyzing, monitoring households and helping those less efficient and poorer2.



However, when computing the math, Enel's first program helped respectively 0.01% of 52mn European citizens who were unable to pay their bills on time due to the expensive amount. The second program supported 0.07% of the 34mn Europeans who were struggling with energy efficiency. The third program helped around 0.001% of the European households affected by delays in bills payment.

Through these initiatives, Enel helped a total of 29,000 European Citizens to become more energy-efficient and cut their bills2 which resulted in 4.6% of Enel's customers in Europe (62mn)2. Furthermore, the company supported 0.09% of the total European households affected by energy poverty.

Looking at the data, we can conclude that when taking into account absolute numbers, Enel is actively participating in different campaigns across Europe as well as America for supporting individuals in reducing energy poverty. However, when analyzing the percentages, it is safe to assume that the indicators are quite low considering that they are below 0.1%.


Therefore, Enel must keep up with its commitment to fight energy poverty, but it must involve more people in its compaigns or even opening up new programs.


By increasing its efforts, the company could significantly reduce the energy poverty phenomenon both in America and Europe as its customer base is quite large. By doing so Enel could also be an example for the other big companies in the energy sector.


Sources:

  1. https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal7

  2. https://www.enel.com/content/dam/enel-com/documenti/investitori/sostenibilita/2018/sustainability-report_2018.pdf

  3. https://ec.europa.eu/energy/topics/markets-and-consumers/energy-consumer-rights/energy-poverty_en#:~:text=guarantee%20our%20health.-,Energy%20poverty%20in%20the%20EU,homes%20adequately%20warm%20in%202018.&text=Energy%20poverty%20results%20from%20a,regards%20the%20performance%20of%20buildings

  4. https://www.eumayors.eu/support/energy-poverty.html

  5. https://www.mdpi.com/1996-1073/13/7/1608

  6. https://craft.co/enel

  7. https://www.habitat.org/emea/about/what-we-do/residential-energy-efficiency-households/energy-poverty

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