Tackling energy poverty in Europe

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In this short interview, Marina Varvesi, Coordinator of H2020 project ASSIST, explains how to tackle energy poverty with free assistance and advice. She also gives some tips on how to prepare a successful project proposal.

What is your project about?

ASSIST is a 3-year H2020 project that started in 2017. It is implemented in six countries: Italy, Spain, UK, Poland, Finland and Belgium. The idea is to contribute to tackle energy poverty through operators with integrated competencies. The project is using the existing network of Households Energy Advisers (HEA) – people who are already working in the field. The objective is to give them the right competencies to be able to provide advice to consumers in energy poverty. They are supposed to advise on energy consumption, on small retrofitting, on energy habits, etc. The most important is that they have to do it in easy words, no technical language. They have to establish a trustworthy communication with consumers, a real relation of trust and help. The project foresees trainings of HEAs, networking and their actions on the ground.

What is your biggest achievement?

It is the results. The number of trainings and trained HEAs. HEA training and network is free of charge. Many people registered and went through the whole training. For Italy, the indicator was 75 trained HEAs – so far, we trained 100 and we have 50 in training, so we will double this number. 

How did H2020 funding help you develop your project?

Completely! ASSIST is a Coordination and Support Action, so it received 100% of funding from H2020. Without this money, we would not be able to train HEAs, or consequently, help consumers in energy poverty with any form of assistance or advice. 

What’s next?

The project will end in 10 months but we hope we will be able to sustain the network in several countries thanks to public funding.

Your key to success to get funding?

It’s the consortium. You need to have motivated partners with a good mix of competencies. You do not really need big companies - the size does not really matter - but it is essential that all partners are fully engaged. Good collaboration of all the partners is crucial to get funding and to ensure ultimately a success of your project. 

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