Assessing Energy Inequity and the Distributional Effects of Energy Policies

Assessing Energy Inequity

This $495,000 project funded by the Australian Government, Department of Industry Science, Energy and Resources (2020) aims to assess energy inequity and hardship in Australian and evaluate the effectiveness of existing policies and programmes in addressing the issue. An independent review of the energy market in Australia has identified that there is a need to improve access for low-income households to energy efficiency upgrades, and renewable technologies, and provide support for dealing with energy hardship. Australia’s energy systems are in transition with major changes in when, where and how energy is supplied and used. The adoption of emerging technologies such as renewables, storage and electrification are also driving these changes.

Energy is an essential service, integral to supporting healthy people and communities. Australian households currently face issues with affordability due to high energy costs. These pressures are most acute for low-income and other potentially vulnerable households. If unmanaged, the energy transition could drive further cost increases and reduce security and reliability. Alternatively, a well-managed transition can reduce customer energy costs and national carbon emissions, while supporting the economy, maintaining energy system reliability and affordability, and facilitating the comfort, health, and well-being of householders.

This project draws upon a capabilities approach, combines systematic literature review, secondary statistical data analysis, qualitative stakeholder and householder interviews, case study analysis, policy analysis and evaluation, and Delphi workshops to provide crucial evidence regarding energy inequity, disadvantage and hardship and how current policy and programmes serve to work in this area. The project findings will be vital to help improve outcomes for those facing energy disadvantage, both now and through the energy market transition. The findings will help inform the design of programmes specifically supporting the disadvantaged. It will also be important to help identify and address unintended adverse effects from new and existing policies for the broader market.

The interdisciplinary project team brings together a diverse set of knowledges and skills across Universities, industry, and the public sector including Social Marketing for Behaviour and Social Change, Consumer Psychology, Community Organisation and Policy, Policy Analysis, and Science.


Dr Rowan Bedggood, Swinburne, Lead Investigator Professor Rebekah Russell-Bennett, QUT, Senior Research Advisor Dr Ryan McAndrew, QUT, Researcher Dr Kate Letheren, QUT, Researcher Mr Luke Reade, QCOSS, Senior Advisor, Community Organisation & Policy Ms Wendy Miller, QCOSS, Advisor, Community Organisation & Policy Dr John Gardner, CSIRO, Senior Researcher Dr Lavinia Poruschi, CSIRO, Researcher Mr Matthew Clark, Common Capital, Policy Expert