Renewable energy and electric vehicles make the future of sustainable cities 

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Renewable energy and electric vehicles make the future of sustainable cities 

Cities play a significant role in global consumption, production, and pollution. To become sustainable, cities need to plan, innovate, and invest in their future. There are many aspects to discuss when it comes to sustainable urban transformation: governance, planning, innovation, consumption, etc.

Clean technology is one of the critical assets of a green economy. Renewable energy (especially solar and wind energy), future e-mobility solutions, and IIoT (used in energy and waste management) have a vast potential to help fight climate change and create more resilient and sustainable cities.

Because we’ve crossed the price points where all these technologies make sense, a transformation in the next few years is going to happen very quickly. In my opinion, it’s a matter of raising awareness, understanding, and experience. As these things develop and increase, clean technology grows exponentially, much faster compared to the industrial revolution.

C40 Cities published a report titled Cities leading the way: Seven climate action plans to deliver on the Paris Agreement. This showcases seven cities with climate action plans that put the city on a path to becoming emissions-neutral by 2050 and more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

Cities included in the report are Barcelona, Copenhagen, London, New York City, Oslo, Paris, and Stockholm.

Barcelona has set a zero-energy poverty target by 2030 

One of the biggest challenges Barcelona will face is a major increase in the vulnerable population impacted by climate change and energy poverty. The city has already started implementing a series of actions targeting the most vulnerable citizens. From 2019, facilities in the Barcelona Metropolitan Area and up to 20 000 of the city’s residents will have access to sustainable energy supplied by Barcelona Energia, the public electricity distributor for the Barcelona Metropolitan Area.

Copenhagen aims to become the first carbon-neutral capital by 2025 

Despite a population growth of 16%, Copenhagen managed to reduce the annual CO2 emissions by 38% compared to 2005 levels.

“Most savings were achieved through increasing the share of green energy from biomass used in the city’s combined heat and power plants and wind energy. Furthermore, the conversion of a power plant unit from coal to sustainable biomass is underway and is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.” (C40 Cities Report)

According to the same source:

  • 20 000 street lamps have been replaced with LED lights, resulting in an energy saving of 57% compared to 2010
  • Copenhagen introduced its first electric buses
  • The city plans to build more bicycle lanes

London sets the target for a zero-emission transport network by 2050 

London bought 100 new electric double-deckers from China, which were delivered in July 2019In 2020, London will see the introduction of the world’s first hydrogen double-decker buses as part of London’s push for zero-emission transportation. According to a report published in January, by the end of 2019, London will have 240 purely electric buses, less than 2.6% of its overall bus fleet. The city also plans for at least 300 rapid charge points to be installed by 2020, and it is also exploring the next generation of road user charging systems. 

Oslo aims to cut city emissions by 95% by 2030 

According to C40 Cities Report, Oslo aims to reduce total city emissions by 36% by 2020, by 50% as soon as possible after 2020, and by 95% by 2030.

Since transport in the city accounts for more than 60% of total emissions, Oslo plans to make walking, cycling, and public transport more attractive, phasing out fossil fuels for public transportation and introducing road user payment systems.

Over the next four years, Oslo aims to reduce CO2 from the energy and buildings sector, which accounts for 20% of total emissions. This will be achieved by phasing out fossil oil for heating through national and local support schemes. Almost 99% of energy sources at this moment consists of heat from the sewer system, recovered heat from waste, bioenergy, and electricity from hydropower.

Concerning waste management, 200 000 additional tonnes of CO2 are expected to go unused by reusing, recycling, and sharing more and by applying carbon capture and storage technologies to Oslo’s waste-to-energy plants. A pilot project has already demonstrated that 90% of CO2 emissions can be captured.

Stockholm plans to achieve net-zero emissions by 2040, Paris by 2050 

By 2022, Stockholm intends to replace all fossil fuels with renewables to achieve net-zero emissions. There is also a potential for 10% of the power used in the city to be generated from solar power produced in buildings and from bioenergy in combined heat and power plants. About 43% of emissions reductions must come from transport. By 2021, 70% of all food waste will be collected for conversion into biogas and automatically sorted in a plant using near-infrared technology.

To attain zero emissions at the local level, Paris’ energy consumption will need to be halved, and 100% of the energy consumed will need to come from renewables by 2050, states the C40 Cities Report.

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Renewable energy and electric vehicles – the future of sustainable cities 

As we can see, there are a few major trends that shape the future of sustainable cities: renewable energy, e-mobility solutions, energy & waste management (using data analytics), etc. The question is how fast all of these will be scaled up.

Renewable energy sources are projected to account for more than one quarter of global electricity production by 2020.

The growth in electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) is climbing, and by 2025, EVs and HEVs will account for an estimated 30% of all vehicle sales.

Today, about 17% of the world’s buses are electric—425 000 in total. 99% of them are in China, which adds a London-sized electric bus fleet to its roads every five weeks.

In the US, a few cities have bought some electric buses, or at least run limited pilots, to test the concept out. California has even mandated that by 2029 all buses purchased by its mass transit agencies be zero-emission.

New York is investing in electric vehicle infrastructure – a minimum of $10 million will be spent toward the installation of 50 fast-charging hubs across all five boroughs by 2020 (C40 Cities Report).

Santiago, the capital city of Chile, recently procured 200 electric buses, the largest electric bus fleet in Latin America, according to the Santiago Times.

In Nepal, the government has announced a decision to procure 300 pure electric buses for its capital of Kathmandu.

The adoption is all over the world, but given all the benefits of e-buses, why aren’t there more? There are several good reasons, enlisted by Aarian Marshal in his article published in Wired.  Sustainability could be hard, but it’s not impossible.


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This article was written by Carolina Rudinschi PhD, the co-founder of IIoT World.