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.
The city-state of Hamburg, with approximately 2 million inhabitants, was chosen as one of two cities to develop a pilot process and simulation software allowing municipal decision makers to participate in creating energy and sustainability transition scenarios for their city. The city 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. Some container terminals are already powered by using industrial waste heat with some 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. The city’s renewable sector is fairly young but 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 has committed to achieving climate neutrality by 2050, which is possible only by scaling up RE deployment and switching to electric vehicles.
Funding for the pilot will finance the participatory multi-stakeholder processes needed to fill gaps in data and identify Hamburg’s specific energy needs, leveraging a detailed regional energy model led by partner institute University of Technology Sydney (UTS). 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, and academia).
A portion of the funding sought will lead to the development of a groundbreaking, open-source software solution, called Cities 2.0, which will enable communities and cities to develop energy plans in line with the Paris Climate Agreement. This will contribute to sustainable local developments in cities around the world. The Cities 2.0 urban energy model will be open source and will be usable by city councils around the world.
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 Sydney 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 maximizing socio-economic benefits for a greener recovery post COVID-19.