G20 Collateral IRENA event – Resilient cities: renewable energy policies and technology solutions
The workshop underlined the importance of the technical potential for the development of renewables in cities, particularly in the power, transport and buildings sectors
The virtual Collateral event of the Italian G20 on Energy-Climate, organized on 31th March 2021 in collaboration with IRENA, was aimed at exploring strategies for urban energy transformations that allow cities to foster a renewable energy future, drawing on examples from municipal authorities acting as planners, regulators, financers and operators of urban infrastructure.
More than half of the world’s population (4.4 billion people) now lives in cities. By 2050, this number is expected to grow substantially. This means that urban-level energy planning and decision-making are critical to the success of the overall energy transformation and for the achievement of the goals of the Paris agreement.
Cities are uniquely positioned to promote renewable energy: municipal authorities are energy planners and regulators; they also have a financial role to play (e.g., levying local taxes and fees, providing low-interest loans or issuing green municipal bonds). Finally, cities are often important owners or operators of energy-generating facilities and related urban infrastructure.
Thanks to remarkable examples from Germany, Uganda and China, the workshop underlined the importance of the technical potential for the development of renewables in cities, particularly in the power, transport and buildings sectors. Along with solar, wind and hydroelectric, green hydrogen and bio-gas production using organic material from urban waste can also help maximize the deployment of renewable energy sources.
While it is necessary to understand the diverse social, economic, demographic and environmental conditions in cities around the world, a wide range of possibilities can be taken into account, such as energy-efficient buildings, small-scale batteries, power system flexibility, digitalization, demand-side solutions. The role of local energy communities should be promoted, also in the light of the importance of social behavior in accelerating the energy transition.
In conclusion, cities have a strategic role to play, bearing in mind that the energy transition can support local economic development objectives and will boost urban resilience in the face of the existential threat of climate change, air pollution, supply uncertainties and price volatility.