Transition Point

Pilot project to tackle
energy poverty in Portugal

Portugal is one of the European countries with the highest levels of energy poverty, which poses a serious risk to the well-being of communities.

With this initiative we intend to implement an innovative model of proximity at the level of the municipality to support families in improving the energy performance of their homes, contributing to a just energy transition of the country.

The pilot project “Transition Point” is an initiative of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, in partnership with ENA – Energy and Environment Agency of Arrábida, CENSE – Center for Research in Environment and Sustainability (FCT-NOVA) and RNAE – Association of Energy and Environment Agencies (National Network), and with the collaboration of the City Council of Setúbal and the Parish Council of São Sebastião (Setúbal).



Inability or difficulty to maintain an adequate level of essential energy services at home (services that ensure basic needs in citizens' daily lives, such as the supply of electricity and gas), due to a combination of several factors such as low incomes, low energy performance of homes and high energy costs, among others.

Those who live without thermal comfort: very cold homes in the winter or very hot homes in the summer, with infiltrations, humidity, or indoor air quality problems. The elderly and children are among the most affected demographic groups. Energy poverty has serious repercussions on your physical and mental health.

Portugal is one of the countries with the highest levels of energy poverty in the European Union – between 1.9 and 3 million Portuguese are affected. The country also has one of the highest rates of excess winter mortality in the region, and this is directly associated with the low quality of Portuguese housing.

  • The late creation of legislation on the introduction of thermal requirements in buildings contributed to the low level of thermal insulation of the housing stock and its poor energy performance;
  • Imbalance between low incomes and high energy prices. In Portugal, the burden of taxes on electricity and gas bills is one of the highest in the European Union;
  • Unsuitable levels of energy services, leading to situations of energy under-consumption;
  • Inefficient heating and cooling devices.


About the Pilot Project

The first Transition Point operates in a reused marine container, transformed into a face-to-face service space.

During the pilot phase, between February and June 2022, the Transition Point will be installed in Setúbal, next to the entrance of the Market 2 de Abril, facilitating proximity to residents, due to its visibility and accessibility.

The Transition Point will be supported by a qualified expert to provide the following services to the local population:

  • Advice on electricity and gas bills.
  • Information and advice on obtaining funding for energy renewal of homes and support for the completion of applications.
  • Free energy assessments of homes.


Agents for energy transition

One of the services provided by the Transition Point is the free energy assessment of housing by qualified agents. This analysis allows the identification of opportunities for improvement that will serve as the basis for further advice.

Evaluations must be scheduled in person or via telephone or email and are conducted by the Agents for energy transition – citizens selected from the local community, in collaboration with the City Council of Setúbal, and trained specifically for this project.


The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation is responsible for the funding and management of the Transition Point project.



Energy and Environment Agency of Arrábida: responsible for the implementation and operationalization of the project on the ground.

ENA is a non-profit association made up of public and private entities and citizens, created in 2006 by the municipalities of Setúbal, Palmela and Sesimbra, under the Intelligent Energy Europe Program. It promotes energy efficiency, sustainability and good environmental practices in the Territory of Arrábida in order to make the transition to Sustainable Development in areas such as: PLANNING (Electric Mobility Plan, Local Climate Change Adaptation Plans and Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans under the Covenant of Mayors); CIRCULAR ECONOMY (recycling of food oil used for biodiesel production); CAPACITY BUILDING (of cities in the design of roadmaps for climate neutrality and through tools to support decision-making in relation to energy efficiency in public buildings); AWARENESS (community involvement in behavioral change through pedagogical tools); and TECHNICAL AREA (support in energy management, in the design of energy-efficient infrastructures, audits and implementation of energy management systems).

Responsible for the scientific monitoring of the project.

CENSE is a center of interdisciplinary excellence and advanced education in sustainability, being inserted in the NOVA School of Science and Technology of NOVA University of Lisbon. The activities carried out at CENSE follow five fundamental principles: working for a sustainable future; interdisciplinary research; methodological pluralism; freedom of investigation; promoting a scientific approach linked to society. CENSE explores new paths for the construction of a sustainable society in the areas of ecological economy and environmental management; energy and climate; bioresources and green technologies, computing for sustainability and water sanitation and sustainable waste recovery. As a scientifically recognized center, it integrates international and national networks and produces knowledge that informs multi-scale policy decisions, promoting the co-creation of solutions with society. Since 2016, it has been promoting research and support to local energy poverty entities, currently part of the EU Energy Poverty Advisory HUB coordination team.

Responsible for identifying programs and funding instruments applicable to the target audience of the project.

RNAE is a private, non-profit association created in 2010, whose main objective is to promote the participation of the 21 Energy and Environment Agencies existing in Portugal in wide-ranging projects, as well as to develop partnerships in the following areas of intervention: Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energies, Alternative Fuels, Sustainable Mobility, Waste Recovery, Climate Change and Combating Energy Poverty. The geographical area covered by RNAE is coincident with that of the Energy and Environment Agencies (about 66% of the municipalities of Portugal), noting that of the 308 municipalities in Portugal, 203 are covered by Energy and Environment Agencies.

The main areas of operation of RNAE are in agreement with those of the Energy and Environment Agencies (municipal and regional, which voluntarily decided to join this cooperation network), namely, the promotion of the rational use of energy and the use of renewable energy sources, the development of projects and activities with a view to the use of renewable energies, the protection and valorization of the environment and the dynamic of training, awareness and training actions of various local agents in these themes.


Contribution of the Transition Point to sustainable development goals (SDGS)


No Poverty


Good Health and Well-being


Affordable and Clean Energy


Decent Work and Economic Growth

SDG 10

Reduced Inequalities

SDG 11

Sustainable Cities and Communities

SDG 13

Climate Action

SDG 17

Partnerships for the Goals


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