Decarbonization of the cities – from COP24

Let’s start from East this time. Japan had 75% of people admitted to hospitals for heat attacks due to the heat INSIDE the building. At the same time, the building energy needs are ever increasing with the increasing affordability of people.  This means that the building demands are not decreasing, and so are not the associated impacts. And, this raises a need for very quick actions on the demand side (energy-efficiency and renewables) and supply side (grid balancing, the flexibility of the grid, and better storage) for net-zero energy buildings. The distributed energy systems were a major discussion topic with notable mentions to the grid optimization, intelligent technology solutions from smart meters, better diagnostics, IT solutions like AI/IOT/blockchain based energy distribution solutions, and nuclear power integration with other renewables.

Additional to the technologies, we need indicators for understanding the progress of decarbonization of the cities. Going to the west, ACEEE discussed some of their solutions e.g. 2017 city energy efficiency scorecard and these are derived from parameters like community initiatives, utilities, transportation, and building process efficiency. Multiple policies have been helpful for this, especially in the USA – Energy conversation audit, building energy savings act, etc. Multiple ratings, labels, disclosures are released by ACEEE and the most important solution has been the “benchmarking”, which allows building owners to compare their buildings with other and indicate their performance.

Another project which is more global – C40 cities discussed various solutions at technical and policy level, engaging public and private entities for installation of the solutions. The transport was highlighted as one of the important solutions here with a focus on access to technology-enabled transportation data for passenger mobility. This should not be limited to public transport, but also ride-sharing companies which would help in understanding the gaps in the transportation planning. The report released by C40 with Mckinsey also indicates that energy for heat, electricity, and transport are the biggest issues for the decorbanisation of the cities. As local governments cannot do this alone, major schemes for support are needed as incentives for industries and cities. Taking the example for Paris where C40 worked on, public schools were targeted for the emissions control – leading to an estimated 30% savings. Similarly, Seoul with a loan scheme is facilitating retrofitting of 90000 buildings for becoming zero-energy.

The US green energy building council indicated that with the increased floor area demand, and the target for reducing building emissions by 80-90% by 2050: the buildings need to reduce their consumption emissions immensely to meet the targets. The LEED zero programs, green build program, and grid optimal initiatives are some examples of how this can be made possible. Similarly, with all the decentralized solutions coming up, grid optimization/ flexibility with its extension becomes the biggest need. As this is still an expensive solution, it is important to consider the efficiency versus the reliability of the project before choosing decentralization over other options. Integration of the decentralization solutions with the IT solutions can be quite impactful here: for not just predicting the heat waves and the heat islands, but also helping the district grids’ optimizations with the dynamic data analysis.