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Lines of research.

 

 


Interdisciplinary approach

This space for interdisciplinary reflection will comprise representatives of four investigation areas as well as the members of collaborating partners. This group will gather twice a year in workshops. They will be interdisciplinary cooperating workspaces where every discipline may present different suggestions of research or action on different stages of development in which they are working. Therefore, this debate can be enriched with different visions that come from other disciplines. In addition, the workshop will be the perfect ambit to propose and develop future interdisciplinary work lines.





Engineering

This line of research aims to develop a study that determines the residential energy needs (HVAC, DHW and electrical appliances) in Spain and analyses different technical solutions to cover it. For this purpose, the standardised costs methodology (LCOH, LCOC, LCOHC) will be used, in order to compare the alternatives and advise society on the most economical solution in each location. This method takes into account both the variable energy costs and the fixed costs of connection and investment. As a product, a web tool is being developed: this tool will allow obtaining a particularised most efficient alternative by introducing the location and the energy-related characteristics of the dwelling.

In the second phase, some of the technical solutions found in the previous work will be analysed in more detail.

In parallel, this line aims to continue with the analysis of energy poverty in Spain based on consumption-expenditure indicators that has already been carried out for 3 years in collaboration with Economics for Energy, as well as the characterisation of vulnerable households.

PhD Theses:

  • Characterisation of energy poor households in Spain and proposal of feasible technical and policy solutions. (ongoing)

During the first research year, we developed a model for the households’ ‘required heating expenditure’ (heating and DHW), which is the theoretical expenditure required to ensure the indoor environment comfort, considering the location and the dwelling’s typology and thermal characteristics. The proposal has been well received, to the extent that it has been adopted by the National Strategy against Energy Poverty, published by the Ministry of the Ecological Transition in April 2019.
The future objectives of the thesis are aimed at the following topics: (1) understanding and modelling households’ cooling needs and required electricity-expenditure, (2) providing technical solutions (active and passive measures) for vulnerable households, (3) developing a critical review and proposals of energy poverty indicators and (4) proposing regulatory solutions in line with the above.


Social work

From the point of view of social work and social services, the incidence of some social-welfare measures on the improvement of the vital standards of disadvantaged groups have been explored in different ways. For example, research has been carried out about minimum income policies, social inclusion, employment and immigrants integration policies, intervention models for people most likely to suffer from energy poverty, and approaching strategies. These research topics could be centred among others on teamwork, community or individual social work. In the same way, the most effective professional stiles have been studied and encoded: the accompanying programmes, tracing and evaluation from social services, the use of new technologies in the fight against exclusion, and so on.

The intense work in relation to the Social Work professionals and the wide network of practice centers that we have, can provide us with access to a wide range of cases and people served by the Social Services network. These cases might serve as paradigmatic examples of energy poverty, so that its concrete analysis and the study of the components that meet in each case (lack of coordination between public administration levels and departments, collision of interests among the multiple factors involved, legal and law gaps, bureaucratic deficits and flaws in administrative management, systems of access and treatment of information, etc.)  constitute an important empirical material. This knowledge could be used to think about new strategies and define which of them are more adequate to solve these problems, as well as discover and prove the most efficient and convenient ways to prevent and fight against the energy poverty.

PhD Theses:

  • People living in energy poverty within the framework of a just and inclusive energy transition. Participatory research from Social Work. (ongoing)

Participatory research based on the experience of people living in energy poverty with the following objectives: (1) generating collective knowledge about energy poverty based on the methodology developed by the international ATD-Fourth World movement (cross-disciplinary knowledge and practices); (2) improving the process of identifying vulnerable households; (3) analysing the dynamics and relational structure of the social actors system involved in order to increase synergies and increase the effectiveness of public policies.


Business

The Chair's research line of business starts from the understanding of energy poverty as a problem of a complex, multidimensional and multi-actor nature. From there, it focuses on the study of private initiatives to fight energy poverty through the figure of collective social entrepreneurship as a way of fighting against energy poverty.

A second axis will seek to analyse the positioning and initiatives developed by utilities in relation to energy poverty.

Finally, it will analyse the levers for generating financing for the fight against energy poverty and, linked to this, look for unified systems for measuring the social impact of the fight against energy poverty.

PhD Theses:

  • Social entrepreneurship/enterprise as a productive space for the construction of integrative responses to the problem of energy vulnerability. (ongoing)

Law

As part of the law approach to this issue, three axes are proposed. The first will be focused on analysing the concept of energy poverty itself, and if "adjectivizing" poverty makes sense. Moreover, we will analyse targeted answers and their social risks: stigmatization, bureaucratization, etc.

A second axis will be the research on how to introduce the business and policy perspective. This includes studies about (1) the relationship between market failures, corporative government and energy poverty; (2) issues of transparency in the energy bill; (3) managing the prize of electricity and power regulation pro-bono or (4) the regulation of electricity business. The main focus will be the role of the regulator in the defence of groups in risk of energy exclusion.

Finally, a third axis will be dedicated to the administrative procedures to identify and fight against situations of energy poverty.



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