Different challenges, same goal: ambitious European cities strive for clean energy.
When it comes to the transition towards clean energy, cities are more ambitious than their national governments. To be able to move forward, cities are looking for support, room to experiment and new competences. That was the main message to the European Commission and Parliament at the political debate on the third and final day of the Eurocities Environment Forum meeting in Antwerp on Friday 17th of March 2017.
Technology isn’t the biggest challenge here
But the Eurocities conference was not just for lobbying, it was also a great place for cities to share their best practices and challenges. The city of Amsterdam asked City-zen to present some of its innovative energy solutions at one of the round tables. Amsterdam wants to dismantle its gas network in 35 years’ time. The innovative projects in City-zen help to figure out which barriers we need to overcome to scale up new energy clean solutions and eradicate the use of natural gas. It turns out technology usually isn’t the biggest challenge here. More often the barriers in this transition are legal or social: using your car battery as a storage for home energy is a great idea, but what about the warranties? And if a water company starts selling the energy from drinking water, is that still part of their regulated task?
Warsaw, Nuremberg, Porto…
The conference was a great opportunity to share our experiences and learn what challenges other cities deal with. Warsaw for example is still benefitting from the district heating network built in the communist era, but needs to move away from coal. Nuremberg is concerned that after picking the low hanging fruits in the past decade, they now seem to face a more challenging period. And Porto is wondering how a city in the south can fully use its solar potential without destabilising their grids. Sharing the fact that in the sixties, after the discovery of the gas fields in Groningen, it only took 10 years to connect 98% of Dutch homes to gas, gives inspiration. If we could do it then, why not now?