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ORSE: Energy poverty in small towns in Romania – the first in-depth study

27 June 2023

The Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD), the initiator of the Romanian Energy Poverty Observatory (ORSE), has started, for the first time in the country, a pilot research project on energy poverty in small urban areas, an area at the intersection between big cities and the countryside. The objectives of the research are to identify how energy poverty manifests itself in small towns, which are the main challenges, but also which are the important actors and the specific solutions to reduce this phenomenon. Together with the research projects that CSD has carried out over time in different urban contexts, the results of this project will complete the map of the understanding of the phenomenon of energy vulnerabilities in Romania.

The research will be carried out in the context of the implementation of the Enertown project, financed by Norwegian funds and carried out by CSD in partnership with the University of Stavanger in Norway for the exchange of good practices and the development of the capacity to implement the just transition, together with ECERA – non-governmental organization with expertise in the area of energy and environmental policies – and Servelect – a company with expertise in the energy management of several localities in the small urban category.

The specific objectives of the project aim at: strengthening the capacity of local actors to navigate the challenges of the just transition in the context of the small urban area in Romania, to identify and quantify the specific challenges and to produce intervention formulas that produce results in the community. The latter aim at renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable energy security solutions. The project will take place in four urban localities in Cluj county: Huedin, Gherla, Turda and Câmpia Turzii. The secondary objective is the transfer of the experience gained here to other localities in Romania.

Enertown offers the opportunity for a parallel research, carried out on this occasion by ORSE, on energy poverty in the small urban areas. The project will run until December of this year.

“The way in which development in Romania took place after 1990 assumed specific challenges for the rural and urban environments. The small urban is distinguished by its own challenges, especially in the context of the development of large urban poles. In Romania, any discussion on energy poverty or the just transition has an eminently national approach, without taking into account local nuances. The idea of the research is to understand the challenges of energy poverty in small urban areas, in a development context,” said George Jiglău, CSD president, ORSE and Enertown project coordinator.

As ORSE experts have also drawn attention, in Romania, the profile of vulnerable energy consumers is usually analyzed by the institutions responsible for dealing with energy poverty with insufficient reference to concrete data from the field, case studies or other details related to the living environment of these people (mountain/plain regions, rural/urban, etc.). Measures generalized at the population level or that do not distinguish between vulnerabilities cannot produce a correct coverage of the needs of different categories of households.


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