One of the sustainable development goals of the Italian Cooperation Agency is to guarantee universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services by 2030.
In developing countries, energy poverty concerns about 1 billion people who do not have physical access to the electricity grid and about 2.7 billion people who use dirty and polluting fuels for cooking (source: International energy agency).
In countries with advanced economies, on the other hand, the critical issue concerns convenience, with a significant number of families that despite having modern electricity and cooking systems cannot afford to consume as much energy as they would like. Moreover, the issue of adequate heating and cooling of the environments is increasingly present, also from the viewpoint of the climate change consequences
In Italy, energy poverty is defined as the difficulty of purchasing a minimum basket of energy goods and services or, alternatively, access to energy services that involves a distraction of resources, in terms of expenditure or income, exceeding a “normal value “(Source: National Energy Strategy, 2017).
In 2021 there were over 2.2 million families in energy poverty, equal to 8.5% of the total families, based on the official measure adopted with the 2017 National Energy Strategy, in the 2020 Italian National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) and in the Annual Report 2023 by Istat . In the 2020 NECP, sent by the government to the European Commission, the objective is to reduce energy poverty by 2030 in a range between 7 and 8% of total families
The official measure of energy poverty is an objective-relative measure, which revises the English low income-high costs (LIHC) approach with two substantial differences: real expenditure data are used, deriving from the survey on household budget (Istat) and include families in conditions of deprivation and with no expenditure for heating (more information: “Energy poverty in Italy”, 2014).
Based on this measure, a family is in energy poverty if:
1) Its equivalent energy expenditure is more than twice the average expenditure and, simultaneously, its energy expenditure subtract total expenditure, is lower than the relative poverty threshold, as identified by Istat (families in the blue box – see . figure);
2) A family with a total equivalent expenditure lower than the median also has zero expenditure for heating (families in the red box – see figure). “
In Italy, there are 3 types of policies to combat energy poverty: first, to reduce energy expenditure, second to improve energy efficiency, and third to provide subsidies.
- Bonuses and deductions
They are part of policies to reduce household energy expenditure. The electricity and gas bonuses provide, with a discount on the bill, an amount that varies according to the number of members, and for the gas bonus only, also based on the climatic zone and the type of use. Access is restricted to an ISEE value of less than € 9,530, raised to € 20,000 for large families (with more than 4 dependent children).
The physical discomfort bonus adds a discount to the electricity bill of people whose survival depends on assistive medical equipment, regardless of income. In addition, there are bonuses which reduce the excise duty on the first 150 kWh of monthly consumption of Italian families and the price of fuels used for heating in Sardinia and in the mountain areas / smaller islands.
- Regulations, tax benefits, energy performance certificates, energy tutors
They are part of policies to improve the energy efficiency of homes. Ecobonus is a fiscal deduction for the energy restructuring of building. Such a bonus is extended to families in fuel poverty and it results as a clearing of the loan (or credit transfer) for insolvent agents (National Budget Law 2017) and for Social Housing institutions (National Budget law 2018).
- Subsidies to support low-income families