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Future cities – the role of energy and local government

Future-of-Cities Main

Future cities are sustainable and self-sufficient, capable of generating as much energy as they consume. The role of local government is therefore essential in terms of promoting policies and measures that support this futuristic – but not too far from today – vision. Local authorities can drive profound changes in their communities and determine the agility with which they will be able to shape themselves to the dynamics of the future.

  1. Power generation and energy storage solutions, within or close to the cities

Decentralized renewable energy production units can be installed in idle municipal buildings and structures (services, warehouses, fire brigades, sports halls, municipal swimming pools, school groups…). This maximizes the utility of common assets and adds value to existing public resources.

On the other side, the storage of energy generated in low consumption periods for being used at peak times is a fast start and stop solution that makes it possible to combat the intermittency of renewable energies, as well as the fact that networks have limited capacity.

  1. Renewable Energy Communities

It’s getting more visible the local movement to implement Renewable Energy Communities, a concept that allows to produce, consume, and share energy between its members. Renewable Energy Communities can bring undeniable benefits, such as (i) economical (new businesses and local investment, generating more jobs, taxes and wealth), (ii) social (involvement of the population, territorial valorization, fight against energy poverty) and (iii) environmental.

  1. Distribution Networks

The modernization of the distribution networks is also a must have for future cities and local government has the responsibility to leverage the development and investment plans that bring possibilities of digitalization and upscaling current infrastructures (for e.g., the harmonization with public lighting with electric and soft mobility solutions).

  1. Smart management

Smart cities are made of intelligent energy management, but there is no point on just investing in new developments if what already exists is not rethought and recovered. Therefore, replacement of low energy performance equipment, insulation and energy rehabilitation of municipal buildings and infrastructures are conventional actions that cannot be neglected.

Also, future cities rethink available resources and have a dynamic management regarding variations of these resources and the needs of its populations.

  1. Energy literacy

It is mandatory to highlight the great importance of dissemination of information to the local community regarding solutions of energy efficiency and sufficiency (as important as the first), and the possibility that citizens, traditionally passive agents in the electricity system, may provide services to the system, while they also benefit from it.

This empowerment of population, who generally do not have special technical knowledge in energy, is done by sharing information and pushing measures that allow everyday people to participate in a fair and inclusive energy transition.

The electrification of cities brings endless opportunities for new interactions, and the proximity of local authorities to their communities is what will allow to digitalize, decarbonize and de-centralize. For this is essential to break the dual system between the public and the private, as in energy both should be on the same side. These are key principles to break market barriers, still highly volatile and influenced by global geopolitical context, fight energy poverty and democratize energy.


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