In June, the International Energy Agency (IEA) published its 2016 Energy Technology Perspectives report.To turn the promises made at COP21 into a reality, technology has a pivotal role to play in cities which are now home to almost half of the world’s population. What needs to be done? What is the best approach? Below are some ideas.
The prospective analysis carried out by the IEA established scenarios for how global warming may evolve by 2050. Limiting the increase in temperature to 2°C, in line with the commitment made at COP21, would mean reducing CO2 emissions by 60% on 2013 levels. The commitments made last December therefore form a major step towards the energy transition needed to limit climate change.
And cities play a fundamental role at the heart of this transition. Indeed, they are home to half of the world’s population, account for two thirds of its energy demands, and produce around 70% of CO2 emissions from energy. In the future, this trend is set to expand with the growth of cities in emerging or developing economic areas:
• In 2050, two thirds of the increase in energy demands will come from these cities.
• In just over 30 years, the equivalent to 40% of current buildings in the world will be erected there.
• The increase in demand for energy services will double CO2 emissions by 2050 in these emerging and developing areas alone..
In its report, the IEA states that sustainable energy planning for cities will reduce energy bills for urban consumers by $50bn worldwide by 2050.
This is the role ENGIE has assumed to overcome this crucial challenge. Although it has a strong international presence, working in 70 countries, the Group has developed a robust national program to imagine the city of the future: Isabelle Kocher, ENGIE CEO, unveiled this strategy at the Smart Energy Summit 2016:
“Last year we decided to transition from a business-line structure with an international network and national structure for each line, which ultimately lowered the group’s center of gravity and in which each national structure’s primary role was to broadly expand its connections with local stakeholders”.
The structure shifted focus to geographical areas and concrete actions in partnerships with local stakeholders, built around four strategic pillars: decarbonization, decentralization, and digitalization of how energy is produced and used, along with energy efficiency. ENGIE believes in a number of solutions to make cities greener, including:
• Green mobility. ENGIE has installed over 5000 charge terminals for electric cars throughout Europe, as well as a network of 200 service stations for utility vehicles running on biogas. In 2015, the IEA reports that the number of vehicles in service exceeded one million.
• Smart buildings. ENGIE is developing home automation systems for private customers. For professionals, the Group is backing technologies like BIM to model buildings before, during, and after its construction in order to boost its energy performance.
In the march towards decarbonization and decentralization, digital technology is key and; in the words of Isabelle Kocher in an interview granted to the French business newspaper, Les Echos, “It is now inherent to energy technology”.