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Fuel poverty and vulnerability in the EU low-carbon transition: the case of renewable electricity


The European Union (EU) and member states alike are following a tradition of addressing fuel poverty and vulnerability at the point of purchase by final consumers by seeking to influence the impact of income, energy price and the built environment on the ability of household consumers to access the energy that they need. By focusing on the conditions of energy transmission in the most rapidly growing renewable electricity sector in the UK – offshore wind – this paper aims to question whether the regulatory socio-technological framing of renewable electricity transmission is reproducing conditions for fuel poverty and vulnerability in the UK. By drawing a comparison with renewable electricity transmission in Bulgaria, this paper argues that the problem might be symptomatic of the EU as a whole. While not arguing against the proliferation of renewable electricity and its importance in meeting the 2020 targets, this paper calls for expanding the scope of fuel poverty alleviation policy throughout the whole renewable electricity supply chain, building on Helm's argument that energy companies at the middle of the supply chain are better suited to deliver fuel policy.