Energy Transitions and Regional Inequalities in Energy Poverty Trends: Exploring the EU Energy Divide

Posted: 13 Dec 2014 Last revised: 23 Nov 2015

Date Written: December 11, 2014


Energy poverty can be understood as the inability of a household to secure a socially- and materially-necessitated level of energy services in the home (Bouzarovski, 2014). While the condition is widespread across Europe, its spatial and social distribution is highly uneven – a disparity that is increasingly described with the aid of the term ‘energy divide’ (National Energy Action, 2014). In this paper, the existence of a geographical energy divide in Europe provides a starting point for exploring the relationship between energy transitions – commonly conceptualized as wide ranging processes of socio-technical change – and existing patterns of regional economic inequality. We have undertaken a comprehensive analysis of spatial and temporal trends in the national-scale patterns of energy poverty, as well as gas and electricity prices. The results of our work indicate that the classic economic development distinction between the core and periphery (Copus, 2001) also holds true in the case of energy poverty, as the incidence of this phenomenon is significantly higher in Southern and Eastern European member states. The paper thus emphasizes the need for an explicit theoretical integration of questions of path-dependency, uneven development and material deprivation in existing conceptualizations of energy transitions.

This paper is available with full open access from the journal European Urban and Regional Studies.

Keywords: energy poverty; energy transition; prices; regional inequalities; European Union

Suggested Citation

Herrero, Sergio Tirado and Bouzarovski, Stefan, Energy Transitions and Regional Inequalities in Energy Poverty Trends: Exploring the EU Energy Divide (December 11, 2014). USAEE Working Paper No. 14-193, Available at SSRN: or

Sergio Tirado Herrero (Contact Author)

University of Manchester ( email )

School of Environment, Education and Development
Oxford Road
United Kingdom

Stefan Bouzarovski

University of Manchester ( email )

Oxford Road
Manchester, N/A M13 9PL
United Kingdom

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