The lack of access and low quality of electrical energy supplied to the home to cover the basic needs of its occupants constitutes a dimension of energy poverty. Other indicators of this dimension include the coverage of electricity, the cost of said energy, and the possession of economic goods related to the final use of electricity [1–3].
The concept of energy poverty was born in the United Kingdom during the 1980s as a response to the difficulties faced by the population in maintaining adequate heating in their homes during the winter, a time when it coincided with the increase in the number of people affected by diseases respiratory diseases, which were torn between paying for their food or buying a heater [4, 5]. In 1991, Boardman stated that a household is in an energy poverty situation if the costs of paying energy bills exceed 10% of their income . Thus, energy-poor families are increasingly vulnerable since they reduce people's quality of life because they are forced to reduce their energy consumption .
In , it is stated that a dwelling suffers from energy poverty if the sum of the total income of the people who inhabit it is below 60% of the average income of the country and the expenses necessary to achieve thermal comfort are above the average expenditure of the population for this same service. In this way, energy poverty is defined as “The inability of a household to meet the cost of its basic energy needs” .
Energy poverty varies according to the level of development and geographical location of a country. In developed countries, with a high percentage of families with access to modern energy, this indicator focuses on the inability to maintain thermal comfort. In contrast, it is due to the lack of connection to the electricity service in developing countries. Currently, there are 1,300 million people who do not have access to electricity in their homes . Therefore, measuring energy poverty constitutes an essential element in formulating and implementing government policies aimed at social and economic development. However, in Colombia, there is no statistical information on the subject, so the research focuses on analyzing the level of energy poverty and its consequences on the quality of life of the urban and rural population of the Caribbean region and compares it with the data from the rest of the country so that decision-makers have sufficient elements that allow me to draw up plans and strategies to reduce and eliminate energy poverty [9, 10].
Electric power improves the population's quality of life by facilitating access to education, health, drinking water, and many other benefits. Furthermore, a physical connection to the electricity grid alone is not enough, as electricity must be affordable, efficient, reliable, and safe. On the other hand, an expensive and low-quality electricity service encourages families to take measures that can affect their health and well-being by using energy substitutes without the minimum standards and requirements for their use [11, 12].
Economic and social growth leads to increases in energy consumption, and there is a close relationship between poverty reduction and improvements in energy services . In this way, the link between electricity consumption and economic growth expands to the Human Development Index (HDI) and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita because these indicators are directly related to energy consumption.
Over time, the role of access to electricity in the development of a nation begins to be better understood, increasing the interest of governments to expand coverage to the most remote areas of their territories and giving rise to international initiatives such as “Sustainable energies for all,” designed by the United Nations Organization, which seeks to guarantee universal access to modern energies by 2030. In 2010, the European Commission recognized that “Energy poverty, which can deprive households not only heating or cooling, but also hot water, electricity, and other essential domestic needs, is another manifestation of severe deprivation.”
The main obstacles for a country to have full coverage of the electricity system are not concentrated in financing or designing the electricity system itself but in the absence of efficient institutions, government transparency, and appropriate regulations [14, 15]. Governments often focus excessively on reducing energy poverty through energy subsidies instead of implementing service efficiency improvements, reducing energy consumption and consequently subsidy spending [16–18].
Energy scenarios aid decision-making regarding the transformation of the energy supply system . Each territory has its energy characteristics and establishes its social priorities; supply sources depending on sustainability are key.
Currently, energy is considered a strategic problem . It is managed and supplied through centralized management, where the endogenous potentialities of the localities are not adequately appreciated, nor are the alternatives for taking advantage of the energy resources that exist locally. This situation is accentuated in the poorest territories .
The document is grouped into five sections. The first contains a literary review of energy poverty, its importance, and its consequences for the population. The second section exposes the methodology used to characterize the energy landscape and the measurement of energy poverty according to . The third section shows the results obtained according to the methods used, and the fourth discusses the implications of energy poverty in the population of the Caribbean region. Finally, the conclusions are detailed according to the results obtained.