Research Programme on Energy Poverty (RPEP)

The Research Programme on Energy Poverty (RPEP) is a multi-stakeholder research initiative focusing on Energy Poverty in Ireland. The Programme is led by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and funded by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC). It also involves other stakeholders: the Department of Social Protection (DSP); the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), and the Central Statistics Office (CSO). 

The RPEP was conceived as an integral part of the Energy Poverty Action Plan, which outlines the multi-annual research programme. The Plan acknowledges the improvement of energy poverty measurement as a necessary condition to increase the efficiency of economic interventions — e.g. targeted social protection, income supports, and design of public policies aimed at reducing energy poverty. Additionally, it recognises the importance of public knowledge and understanding of these supports. 

The main objective of the RPEP is to improve the understanding of energy poverty and its relationship with interlinked social, economic, and environmental issues. The research, stakeholder engagement, and dissemination activities are designed to support enhanced decision-making, informed by robust evidence, to alleviate energy poverty in Ireland. Key elements of the work plan include: 

  • Assessment of existing fuel poverty indicators.
  • Development of reliable and consistent metrics to monitor and study energy poverty.
  • Leveraging access to novel microdata on Irish households to identify the drivers of energy poverty. 
  • Identification of vulnerable populations, and the factors that increase the risk of falling into energy poverty.
  • Evaluation of policies tackling fuel poverty.
  • Analysis of the relationship between dwellings' energy efficiency and energy poverty.
  • Shed light on the complex nexus of energy and other dimensions of poverty.
  • Explore the avenues to address energy poverty and a Just Transition simultaneously.  
  • Survey design and deployment to fill existing data gaps.

The ESRI also chairs a research network for energy poverty which consists of representatives from DECC, the CSO, DSP, SEAI, and Gas Networks Ireland. As part of the Research Programme on Energy Poverty, the research team at the ESRI is collaborating with relevant stakeholders from the Government, private sector, and NGOs. Collecting and sharing feedback between the network members promotes the cooperation needed to develop efficient and inclusive public policy. 

Dissemination activities include a yearly conference on energy poverty, workshops and the publication of research bulletins, knowledge products, and peer-review articles.