Valencia (Spain)

The City of Valencia currently counts on a total of around 800,000 inhabitants and is the center of a wide metropolitan area over 1,5 million inhabitants. It represents the 16% of the total population of the Valencia Region and is, demographically and economically speaking, the third biggest city in Spain, after Madrid and Barcelona. It is located in the center of the Mediterranean Corridor, with one of the most important ports in the Mediterranean region (5th port in freight transport).

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Total population: 801,545 (January 2020)

Sociodemographics: Valencia is the 3rd main Spanish city in economic activity (mainly services) and population around 800.000 inhabitants. 26.2% population is over 64 years (2019). Other significant traits are: 13.5% unemployment rate (2019); 54,3% dependency rate (2019). 9% as vulnerable population (2016). Average net annual income per consumption unit 15.353€ (2018). AROPE 29,8% population (2018).

Energy poverty rate: 23% (2016) Source: Estimated energy poverty in Valencia city in 2016 using the MIS indicator. Mapa de la pobreza energética en Valencia 

A first analysis of energy poverty was performed through a mapping process back in 2016 (based on the estimation of 5 different indicators (10% rules, 2M, LIHC, MIS, Perception and Declaration based) and made a survey with 600 face-to-face households interview) and provided some first insights to drive the energy policy of the city. The study provided an estimated rate of 23% of total city households to be in energy poverty using the MIS indicator.
Energy poverty mostly affects low-income househoulds, unable to keep comfort conditions at their homes as they can’t afford their basic energy needs. Their economic disadvantage often coincides with poor energy efficiency in their homes (bad insulation, poor quality fuel, outdated heating/cooling systems). Rising energy prices, together with recent financial and economic crisis aggravates the problem, abounding on social and economic inequalities. In addition, these groups are often isolated and lack support from others, which leads to an increase in social and spatial segregation.
Among vulnerable social groups especially affected or threatened by energy poverty are retired people, unemployed or poorly paid, single parents, seniors with dependency conditions or living alone, people with disabilities attended by social services, belonging to a minority, migrant situation etc. Energy poverty has multiple impacts on those who suffer it, mainly affecting their health and wellbeing.

Our vision of energy poverty

Valencia city council took part in the first group of cities signing in 2009 the Covenant of Mayors and launched its first Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP) in 2010 with the objective to reduce GHG emissions by 20% by 2020. This commitment was reinforced through the approval of the Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan (SECAP) by the city council on 2019, aiming at establishing the necessary strategies, actions and tools to achieve sustainable development of the use, consumption and energy production by 2030 to reduce its GHG emissions by 40% by 2030, in line with objectives defined by the Covenant of Mayor for Climate and Energy initiative. One of the key axes of the City energy strategy is the fight against energy poverty and to make the right to energy for all of its inhabitants a reality. Different initiatives have already taken place to address fuel poverty with first assessment of 130 households through social services, there is already a working group on fuel poverty that meets on a monthly basis with key stakeholders to advance on this issue (Social NGO, Academia, Private sector involved in energy audit, public administration, etc).

From Valencian vision, energy poverty is a question of social injustice caused by several causes, most of them estructural causes and therefore outside the household’s control. This is why we recognise that energy povery calls for a political response. In order to adress these challenges, the Valencia city council, through the Valencia Climate and Energy foundation, has launched the first Energy Office of the city. The Energy Office aims to operate as a one-stop shop to assess, inform and give support to the citizens in terms of energy efficiency, renewable energy, energy poverty and energy transition. The Energy office main objective is to inform and build capacity of local stakeholders in relation with the energy transition of the city of Valencia, giving citizens the tools and information needed to participate in the Energy Transition as active players. Within WELLBASED, the Energy Office will act as a key tool for the implementation and validation of an urban programme to tackle energy poverty, improving vulnerable households health and wellbeing, as well as raise awareness for the structural problem of energy poverty and the right to energy.

Activities to be implemented

Valencia will engage local stakeholders for the design of the pilot interventions, involving participants from multiple sectors, following the four helix approach developed by Las Naves, including public sector, academy, private sector and civil society. A focus group of vulnerable households will be involved in a co-creation process for the design of the interventions, ensuring actions are carried out according to their real needs.

Interventions include the installation of sensors for the monitoring of energy, atmosphere, health and quality of life indicators from vulnerable households, aiming to prove the relationship between energy poverty and pysical and mental health issues. Gathered data will be later analysed and evaluated to assess the effects of the interventions in participants health and wellbeing.

The implementation of the interventions in vulnerable households will be driven mainly through the coordinated action of the Energy Office (which has experience in socio-energy audits, bill support, information and awareness raising campaigns as well as empowerment activities such as training on energy efficiency and right to energy), social services and NGOs. Actions regarding health and quality of life matters counts with expertise and support from INCLIVA. All interventions and trainings will be framed around the creation of the Citizen School on Right to Energy. Positive results arised from monitoring and evaluation of current and future interventions will foster the replication of Energy Offices all around the city.

The main target group for the project implementation in València will be low income households within the area of Algirós, Camins al Grau and Poblats Marítims, with high representation of vulnerable groups including older people living alone, Roma, unemployed, etc. A total of 354 participants will be involved in the project pilot.