Policy measures to combat energy poverty among low-income household groups in Serbia: a multidisciplinary analysis

In a new report, Marco Peretto from IEECP focuses on the energy poverty situation of the Republic of Serbia, summarising the work done for his thesis, and highlighting key aspects from IEECP projects: the H2020 ENPOR and the 2022 study: “Policies to decarbonise residential buildings in Central, Eastern and Southern EU: impact on energy poverty and mitigation strategies”.

Serbia is a country widely affected by the phenomenon, with households not able to afford essential domestic energy services, mostly due to inefficient dwellings, with a large proportion of buildings in need for refurbishment, and wasteful housing appliances. Energy-poor Serbian households are therefore trapped in the “vicious cycle of energy poverty”, where households presenting low disposable incomes eventually end up spending more on energy since they are unable to afford efficient dwellings and/or house appliances.

The research work focuses on the residential sector as the largest final consumer of energy in the country and tries to propose an energy policy strategy that the Ministry of Mining and Energy should implement in Serbia to achieve household energy efficiency and energy poverty objectives set by the European Commission directed towards low-income groups.

The report analyses the institutional, legal, and policy energy framework in Serbia to ensure the proposed policies are politically and socially feasible. The technical effectiveness in terms of final energy consumption and expenses reduction was also considered, with a linear and static simulation model employed. Performing a simulation-backed analysis of the available policy strategies in Serbia, delineating an optimal one to reduce energy poverty levels and improve household energy efficiency among low-income groups in Serbia, indeed represented a knowledge gap in the literature.

The 3 main policies and simulated scenarios are:

  • Implementing an emissions trading scheme extended as to also include the residential sector;
  • The phasing out of heating oil and fossil fuels in 2030, followed by natural gas in 2040;
  • Implementing Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) in the residential sector.

The report finds that the latter resulted as the best performing policy, presenting the highest reduction in final energy consumption and expenses, resulting politically and socially feasible, delivering a positive social impact among low-income households in Serbia.

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