Civic leaders taking control of cities’ clean energy supplies, finds Arup

11 Oct 16

Civic leaders are increasingly taking on the responsibility for sourcing city energy supplies to secure a clean energy future for citizens, a report by Arup has found.


Berlin, Germany.

Berlin, Germany. The report said that a growing interest in municipal energy companies was evidence that local authorities are gaining confidence in sourcing and securing their own cleaner energy supply.


The Innovating Urban Energy paper, published yesterday by the global engineering and sustainable solutions firm, reveals that new technology, innovative financial mechanisms and political changes are opening up opportunities for cities to secure their own energy.

According to the report, released yesterday at the 23rd World Energy Congress, growing cities, which already account for over 50% of global energy consumption, can no longer rely on a centralized energy supply. They will need to take greater control to meet growing demand.

Technology drivers, such as advanced power electronics, smart metering and local generation are enabling cities to do this, in effect by diversifying their energy portfolio.

Underpinning this, the report highlighted ‘transactive energy’ as a disruptive trend in the way energy is bought and sold. This involves a combination of economic and control mechanisms that enable “dynamic balance of supply and demand using value created as a key operational parameter”.

Technology developments are also serving to blur the lines between producers, distributors and consumers, enabling non-traditional energy players to enter the market. Arup found an increasing opportunity for businesses to become energy “prosumers”, producing their own energy and even supplying cities in what it dubbed the “new urban energy rush”.

The report also pointed to the growing role of civic leaders in climate change action, indicating that cities are willing to enter a sphere traditionally reserved for national governments. Also, it maintained that civic leaders can succeed without national policies in place, and highlights that many will have the mandate to act even when central government does not.

A renewed interest in municipal energy companies in Germany is cited as evidence that local authorities are gaining confidence in sourcing and securing their own cleaner energy supply. Green bonds and crowd funding are also opening up new sources of income for cities to fund their own energy initiatives.

Ian Gardner, Arup global energy leader, said that city leaders are increasingly active in securing stable, low-emission energy supplies, to make a positive impact on their citizens’ lives.

“It is an exciting time because there are big technological and political shifts that are giving cities the opportunity to take control,” he said.  

He added: “We are helping civic leaders and companies around the world to understand the opportunities and what will work both technically and pragmatically within their local contexts.” 

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