Energy

Urban areas are responsible for 75% of greenhouse gas emissions and for 80% of global energy consumption. With a global trend towards urbanisation, these figures are only expected to increase. Buildings are responsible for a large share of this carbon footprint, accounting for 40% of total energy consumption in the European Union, more than half of which comes from the residential sector.

As a consequence, cities and their buildings are on the frontline when it comes to mitigating the impacts of climate change and decarbonising the world economy. Low-carbon technologies, renewable energy sources (RES) and improved energy efficiency in buildings will be critical to any effort to diminish the carbon footprint left by our ever expanding urban societies. With estimates showing that approximately 75% of the current EU building stock will still be standing in 2050, it is easy to understand why existing buildings are the primary energy efficiency challenge.

Given the climate and energy efficiency benefits offered by low-carbon technologies and RES, these seem the obvious choice for cities when it comes to reducing their carbon emissions. However, the market penetration of these technologies remains limited, while conventional energy sources appear to be highly resilient to change. This can be explained by the relative novelty of low-carbon technologies and RES, which means that urban projects attempting to implement these types of solutions are faced with a number of barriers.

It is, therefore, of paramount importance for public authorities at all levels to promote energy efficiency improvements and the implementation of low-carbon technologies and RES in urban areas. If investment in this sector is to be stimulated, it will be necessary to tackle the regulatory, financial, social and technical barriers faced by these technologies. There are specific national and European Union financial instruments that are being put into place and adjusted to properly address these challenges. By using the right policy framework, the EU and national governments can play a crucial role in promoting energy efficiency and enabling more investment in the building sector.

Social

Social
Location
Encountered barriers
Solution

The main challenge were the civil works in the narrow streets of the historic town centre and all related interferences (structural damage and modification of building foundations, temporary blocking of entrances, placement of geothermal pipe works equipment). As thhe municipality had to renovate other infrastructures at the same time there was an increased administrative and coordination effort.

Specific solution has not been reported by the project.

Financial & Economic

Financial & Economic
Location
Encountered barriers
Solution

One of the demo sites Ritamaki School was dropped out from the project in 2013 becase achieving the requirements for renovation would have been economically not feasible. Therefore the school did not go through the renovation plans set to increase energy efficiency apart from connecting the school to DH network.

Specific solution has not been reported by the project.

Extending DH district heating networks to satellite remote areas may not be feasible. This is out of the scope of the project (an external factor), which the team cannot influence but it is negatively affecting the project.  

 

Specific solution has not been reported by the project.

The testing phase of the biogas plant and the developments related to that cause delays in the (economically feasible) operation. 

Specific solution has not been reported by the project.

Regulatory & Administrative

Regulatory & Administrative
Location
Encountered barriers
Solution

Fossil fuels are still used for district heating, which affects negatively the CO2 emission balance within the project. This is something the team cannot influence but it influences project externally.

Specific solution has not been reported by the project.

Recommendations

Recommendations

Description

Project: REMOURBAN

Cooperation between municipalities | Most municipalities share the same urban challenges therefore the learnings from these potential solutions can and should be replicated across a number of cities.

Project: REMOURBAN

Intellectual property | Intellectual Property should remain with the companies and, effectively, the municipality is using the city and its asset as a demonstrator. The companies can showcase their ideas and the municipality benefits from an innovative approach to its challenges.

Project: REMOURBAN

Two-stage process | Sufficient time should be allowed for a two-stage process.  The first stage is an Expression of Interest that looks for ideas.  Companies are provided with a small amount of funding for a  feasibility study to help take the idea to the next stage – usually to make sure the idea can be scaled up to commercialise it successfully.  The second stage involves two or three companies that will work together with the municipality and among themselves in order to optimise the outcomes from the process.  The emphasis is on the collaborative work so that the whole sector raises its level of innovation and skills, and not just individual companies.

Municipalities need to collaborate with the construction sector | The municipality needs to take on the role of the ‘intelligent customer’ and work with the construction sector in a collaborative way to optimise the outcomes from results required, for example, x% of energy reduction per house per year and EUR/year per house.  This will allow the municipality to purchase guaranteed results rather than products or processes.

Project: REMOURBAN

Tenders need a holistic structure | Municipalities should tender for bids that deliver solutions to urban challenges  rather than tender for specific items, as it will lead to more innovation.  This has to be done in conjunction with a change to the evaluation scoring of the tenders so that the performance of what is procured is valued and the price quoted.