The Massive Potential to Increase Renewable Energy in Cities

Hundreds Of Cities Have Cost-Effective Opportunities To Boost Renewable Energy Use

Clean Technica, October 20, 2016

A new report estimating energy usage in 3,649 cities has found that, while there is no one-size-fits-all solution, every city nevertheless has massive potential to cost-effectively increase the use of renewable energy at a local level.

Published on the sidelines of the Habitat III Conference in Quito by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Renewable Energy in Cities estimated the energy use in 3,649 cities which together account for 60% of global energy demand, while also exploring each city’s potential to scale-up renewable energy use by 2030. The study provides a vital insight into the role of one of the most intensive energy consumers, the urban area, which accounts for more than half the world’s population, 65% of global energy demand, and 70% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.

Cities therefore need to be leaders when it comes to transitioning to renewable energy, and working with industry and business to help their own transitions.

The transition is possible, and according to the report, could be extensive. However, it will vary greatly based on each city’s characteristics, and the political willpower to do so. The report highlights best practices for cities — what is possible and what policies are needed.

In addition to a city’s characteristics like population density, growth, and demand, it is important to look at whether a city is situated in a cold or hot climate, as all of these characteristics play a part in shaping the opportunities for renewable energy. A holistic approach is required to better incorporate the varied ways in which energy is used. Specifically, the report outlines three areas where cities can take action to scale up renewable energy use:

  1. Renewable energy in buildings (for heating, cooling, cooking, and appliances)
  2. Sustainable options for transport (electric mobility and biofuels)
  3. Creating integrated urban energy systems
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