For the first time in history, more people live in cities than not, and that number is growing rapidly. Cities are directly responsible for around two-thirds of global final energy use as well as for significant indirect consumption of energy through other goods and materials. They account for around 75% of global CO2 emissions. At the same time, cities are incubators for change and innovation and can lead the global energy transition.
We are seeking funding for the development of a new ground–breaking and open-source software to enable communities and cities to develop energy plans in line with the Paris Climate Agreement. The funder will effectively contribute to sustainable local developments of cities and councils in both the developing and developed world. The Cities 2.0 urban energy model will be open source and will be usable by city councils around the world.
The seed funding for the pilot city of Hamburg, Germany, will finance the participatory multi-stakeholder processes needed to fill gaps in data and identify Hamburg’s specific energy needs. The aim is to develop the energy modelling process in close accordance with the needs and demands of stakeholders within cities (city councils, utilities, industry, tourism, residents, academia etc.) in various geographic locations. The project duration is envisioned to be 1 ½ years.
Hamburg has been chosen as one of two pilot cities in order to develop the methodological blueprint for the software. In a second step, this will be further tested and refined by including other cities around the globe.
Today, the city-state Hamburg, with approximately 2 million inhabitants, is already regarded as a capital of the energy transition, with a number of unprecedented pilots in the transport, storage, heat and electricity. Hamburg is also home to Europe’s second largest port and therefore serves as an interesting blueprint for harbor cities. The sheer diversity of economic activities in the Hamburg harbor also has the power to shape the city’s sustainability practices. Nowadays, some of the container terminals are already powered by using industrial waste heat, and explore the utilization of battery management systems to harvest solar and wind energy.
Offshore and onshore wind as well as sector coupling and storage are some of the main drivers of urban energy policy in Hamburg. Further, the city’s RE sector is fairly young, and continues to grow rapidly. Situated between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, the Hamburg metropolitan region is an ideal location for both onshore and offshore wind turbines, and is a driver of renewable energy production within Germany. The RE sector already comprises around 1,500 companies and employs around 14,500 people within the City of Hamburg. At the same time, the city committed to achieving climate neutrality by 2050, which is possible only by scaling up RE deployment and switching to electric vehicles. Beyond these excellent conditions for Hamburg’s becoming a pilot city for Cities 2.0, the city also headquarters the World Future Council, which has been engaged in local, national and international climate and energy policies for the past 10 years. Therefore, existing relationships with energy, urban and spatial planners can be leveraged to ensure smooth implementation of the project and availability of data in all steps of the methodology development process.
The process of stakeholder engagement will consist of mapping, identifying and actively involving the key actors in Hamburg to engage in peer-to-peer dialogues and knowledge co-production to assess the city’s energy needs; sources and energy planning processes will be determined. The results of this multi-stakeholder process will serve as input for the design and development of the software so that it will be in line with the expectations of local actors, providing a just transition and maximising socio-economic benefits for a greener recovery post COVID-19. The peer-to-peer dialogues will be accompanied throughout the project and energy model development process by a state-of-the-art advocacy strategy which makes sure that citizens widely support the urban energy transition, while building the needed capacities among future users of the cities 2.0 energy model.
The approach of combining scientific energy modelling with qualitative discussions and political advocacy ensures that cities can remain frontrunners in the energy transition and are provided the tools needed to achieve a transition towards a low or zero carbon future.
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