Young Energy Consumers
Did you know that youth is an often neglected vulnerable group when it comes to energy consumers’ policies? We have set out to change this.
Young Energy Consumers — EYEN's new task force
In April 2023, the Young Energy Consumers (YEC) Task Force was created with a team of young energy researchers and changemakers inside the European Youth Energy Network working on an ambitious goal: making young energy consumers more visible in EU policy. Today, young energy consumers are seriously underrepresented at the EU level. The necessities of young energy consumers and their difficulties should not be eye-opening, especially not for an audience of consumer organisations (read our story below for more!). The YEC Task Force is finally filling this gap in research and representation.
Since its creation, the task force has been building knowledge on youth as an energy consumer group in Europe. It sheds light into their specific challenges and provides success examples on how they can be included in policy-making. The Task Force participates in external events where it shares its research outcomes and advocates for decision-makers to take youth into account, while also collaborating with external projects as a youth inclusion advisor. In the long term, it aims to become an official advocacy body for young energy consumers.
They kicked off their work with a pressing topic in the European energy transition…
The first focus — Youth are at risk of energy poverty
As its first focus topic, the task force started out with energy poverty in young energy consumers (between ages 18 & 35) in Europe. The team recognised a need for understanding the underpinning risk factors of energy poverty and tailoring solutions to address every social group being affected by energy poverty, so that no one is left behind.
The topic was chosen after informal consultations with the EU Commission because it was considered as timely considering EU policy developments. The task force then participated in the Stakeholder Contact Group for Energy Poverty organised by the European Commission in occasion of the drafting of the new Recommendation on Energy Poverty for 2023, with a renewal from 2020 (see the story below for updates!). Moreover, energy poverty among youth is highly neglected as a topic with a noticeable lack of data and consequently policies both at the EU and at the member state level. This is just the start and more topics will follow.
Energy poverty research results out now! . . .
Now, the task force is presenting its preliminary research results covering the impact on youth, young consumer charateristics and a collection of government policies, an analysis of good practices, key stakeholders, recommendations and more! Your next chance to catch them: the 15th Citizens’ Energy Forum in Dublin on 9 November 2023 from 9:30 am CET (scroll down to join online).
The story of the YEC Task Force
Find out more about why the task force was founded and which key milestones there have been so far:
Let’s travel back to November 2022, to the 14th Citizens’ Energy Forum, the yearly event organised by the European Commission and the Irish Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) to create a bridge between stakeholders involved in EU energy consumption. At the event, Carlotta Ferri – Vice President of EYEN – spoke about the lack of inclusion of youth in energy consumer policies and the neglected challenges & needs of young energy consumers. She raised awareness on how youth’s lack of education, financial resources and opportunities limit the impact that people can have as proactive consumers.
Carlotta’s speech was eye-opening to the audience of consumer organisations, which made EYEN realise that young energy consumers were seriously underrepresented at the EU level. To create a background in knowledge on the topic of young energy consumers in Europe, in April 2023, EYEN established the Young Energy Consumers Task Force, which aims at becoming a recognised, legitimate and official advocacy body giving a voice to young energy consumers. Working with regulators and established consumer organisations like the Bureau Européen des Unions de Consommateurs (BEUC) or the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).
In September 2023, the task force was represented by policy analyst Halina Jagielska at the Annual Conference of the Energy Poverty Advisory Hub (EPAH), the leading EU initiative to eradicate energy poverty at the local level. Her presentation highlighted that even though most countries are increasingly concerned by energy poverty in youth, very limited data on the topic is available and no country classifies youth as a vulnerable group. To create adequate policies, we need more information on young energy consumers and their specific situations.
On the 23rd of October, EYEN’s President Federico Barbieri participated in the launch of the European Commission Recommendation & Staff Working document on energy poverty on behalf of our organisation. The meeting was opened by Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders and Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson, and participants signed the renewal of joint common principles for enhanced consumer protection during the winter.
How to build a knowledge base
on young energy consumers
Before policy-makers can draft efficient policies addressed at youth, we must build a common knowledge base on young energy consumers. This is how we‘re doing it:
- Conduct comprehensive background research on the consumer profile of young energy consumers (15-29 years old), including factors like educational level, sectoral occupation, political/social involvement, accommodation, house rating, and spending profile.
- Conduct research on the specific topic of energy poverty among youth, highlighting its current status and its impact.
Identify potential stakeholders and map out their reactions to the issue of energy poverty among youth, including both negative and positive examples of engagement.
Propose potential solutions to alleviate energy poverty among youth, such as landlord mandates, special incentives, education programs, ground research on young energy consumers’ needs, increased youth participation in energy communities, and involvement in local government.
Share the research findings with policy-makers through various platforms and events, such as the EPAH Conference and the Citizens Energy Forum, in order to raise awareness and advocate for potential solutions.
Publish the research results on young energy consumers in accessible formats to disseminate knowledge more widely.
To learn more the group we have analysed as young energy consumers, here their profile:
- Age: from 18 to 35
- Occupation: Majority of them are students or young professionals (or unemployed young adults/ young adults on benefits, etc.)
- Educational level: Over 40% of young Europeans had a tertiary degree in 2021
- Sectoral occupation: more likely to work in services/tertiary sector
- Average salary: €1.400 – 1.600 per month
- Accommodation: more likely to live in urban areas and renting – alone or shared
- House average rating: energy efficiency of privately rented homes is poorer than that of owner-occupied properties in many countries across EU + most European rental homes currently achieve an average energy efficiency rating somewhere between classes C to E
- Characteristics: technologically savvy and environmentally conscious (more likely to try new techs according to a study)
- Lifestyle: libraries; gym; bar and clubs; travel; restaurants; flexibility in terms of work and study
- Spending profile: Commonly housing expenditure represent the majority of a person’s consumption expenditure, usually between 25-40%
EYEN's approach & contribution
As part of its activities, the European Youth Energy Network has been setting up Task Forces to focus on specific topics of pressing relevance for youth in the energy transition, acting like time-bound projects inside the federation. They can develop into long-term initiatives by becoming permanent Standing Committees.
EYEN is placing youth at the heart of the European energy transition by reshaping youth engagement, streamlining the voice of young people and creating the space for them to act. You can follow us on LinkedIn for updates and subscribe to the newsletter. See more of our work here: Energy Transition Careers Compass (task force), European Youth Energy Forum (yearly event, position paper with concrete proposals & implementation process).
EYEN is a youth-led international non-profit association, established in Brussels in 2022.
15th Citizens’ Energy Forum (9th Nov 2023, Dublin)
The yearly event is organised by the EU Commission and the Irish Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) to create a bridge between different stakeholders involved in EU energy consumption. At the event’s opening, the Task Force will present its preliminary findings of its year of research. The event is live streamed. Other actors involved include: DG-ENER, Irish Ministry for Climate and Energy, Regulatory Assistance Project, BEUC, Council of European Energy Regulators, TEN Section of the European Economic and Social Committee, TransnetBW GmbH, Slovene Consumers’ Association, EPQ, Commission for Regulation of Utilities, Greenvolt Communidades, EnergieSamen.
A sneak peek ⤵️ Follow or rewatch the livestream for insights. Soon the team will share more research data on youth as energy consumers, on national policies addressed at youth and energy poverty. For professional research, research projects, and personal knowledge.
How can you get engaged?
[ENERGY POVERTY FOCUS] Share your energy poverty projects with us! Whether you are an organisation or an individual researcher, we are open to collaboration on energy poverty projects. We are also happy to take part in any debates that will arise on the topic, to contribute a unique focus on youth from the ranks of European youth-led non-profit.
[YOUNG ENERGY CONSUMERS] The task force is also looking for any other party working on the topic of youth as an energy consumer group from a social and regulatory point of view and that would like to provide insights for the task force’s research and/or start a project or include youth in an existing one.
Meet the young changemakers from EYEN’s team:
Supporting role, EYEN Vice-President
Network & Partners
The task force is in close contact with the European Economic and Social Committee, and has participated in the Stakeholder Contact Group for Energy Poverty organised by the European Commission (see more in the timeline above). The team is also working on collaborations with universities, to connect with current energy poverty research ideally focusing on young adults. More updates will follow soon.