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A framework for the spatial analysis of energy poverty

Authors: Joshua Randall*, North Carolina State Univeristy, Bethany Cutts, North Carolina State University, Jelena Vukomanovic, North Carolina State University
Topics: Energy, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: Energy Poverty, Framework, Vulnerability, policy, spatial analysis
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Energy poverty is a multidimensional problem that occurs in many households across the world and is commonly defined as the inability to afford household energy. However, many areas experience a unique blend of spatial patterns, social inequalities, and political legacies that interact with and perpetuate energy poverty beyond the traditional income benchmark. These factors, specifically policy, spatiality, and vulnerability, often overlap in ways that are difficult to untangle. This hinders the construction of effective solutions that address energy poverty.

Through a conceptual review of previous work in three areas, spatial analysis of energy poverty, energy poverty vulnerabilities, and energy poverty policy, the ways in which energy poverty is currently addressed and spaces for future work are identified. Understanding that these energy poverty components are broadly driven by their geography, this paper conceptualizes a framework for characterizing spatial analysis of energy poverty using these themes.

Individual trends of energy poverty spatial analysis, energy poverty policy, and energy poverty vulnerabilities are explored in-depth as the foundations of spatial energy poverty analysis. The interplay between each theme is then addressed. Tensions identified between these themes allow for exploration into the gaps that currently exist in spatial energy poverty analysis (for example, the connection between spatial analysis and policy tests the idea of spatially unjust policies). A complete version of the framework that conceptualizes spatial energy poverty research as addressing all three foundational themes simultaneously is introduced. Finally, a case study that situates North Carolina’s energy legacy within the framework will be presented.

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