What is ‘fuel poverty?’
A household is said to be in ‘fuel poverty’ when its members cannot afford to keep adequately warm at a reasonable cost, given their income. The concept applies everywhere in the world.
In Europe alone, an estimated 50–125 million people live in such fuel poverty.¹ Globally, about 2.8 billion people depend on biomass materials — which cause harmful indoor air pollution — to cook and heat their homes instead of using clean energy sources.²
Closing this energy gap
To address the energy gap, the Schneider Electric@trade; Foundation launched a programme in 2013 to fight against global fuel poverty by developing partnerships to directly assist the most disadvantaged households facing this particular energy challenge. To carry out its goals, the Foundation works with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other partners to implement concrete and effective solutions.
In mature economies, Schneider Electric is taking a similar approach to that already adopted by the company since 2009 to promote access to energy in new economies through its successful BipBop Programme (Business, Innovation, and People at the Base of the Pyramid).
The company’s first actions to end fuel poverty in both new and mature economies will focus on three main initiatives:
- Awareness and training of underprivileged populations, via partnerships with associations fighting fuel poverty. Recent partnerships developed by the Schneider Electric Foundation, under the aegis of Fondation de France, are committed to this approach;
- Investment in social and community enterprises focused on achieving better living conditions through clean and efficient energy. The impact-investment fund Schneider Electric Energy Access is instrumental in this field; and
- Development of a dedicated and well-targeted offer for people in fuel poverty to help them measure their consumption and acquire fuel-saving habits in the long term.
At present, the NGOs Habitat et Humanisme and Unis-Cité in France, and Caritas in Germany, are helping with this Schneider Electric effort in Europe.
A company priority
‘We are using innovation to reduce the energy gap we can see throughout the world. Although a third of our planet’s inhabitants benefit from secure, affordable energy, there are 1.3 billion people still without access to electricity and hundreds of millions in mature countries whose energy bills leave them in a situation of fuel poverty. Schneider Electric has set itself the goal of providing innovative solutions to tackle both problems, and this priority is at the heart of our economic and social responsibility’, said Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Chairman & CEO of Schneider Electric.
Since 2009, 1.7 million households in new economies have gained access to reliable, affordable, and clean energy thanks to Schneider Electric solutions. The company will continue to escalate this number by now tackling fuel poverty as well.
In all its programmes, the Schneider Electric Foundation ensures the involvement of the company's employees and retirees in all the activities carried out. They will be offered fuel poverty-related assignments by the Schneider Electric Teachers association, created in 2012 to foster volunteering amongst our skilled personnel.
¹ “Tackling Fuel Poverty in Europe; Recommendations Guide for Policy Makers,” European Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency (EPEE) study (an Intelligent Energy Europe project), page 4.
² “Five Surprising Facts about Energy Poverty,” Marianne Lavelle, National Geographic Daily News, 29 May 2013.