Renewable Cities: Utilizing Renewable Energy

renewable cities

Carbon Disclosure Project is a non-profit dedicated to addressing and combating climate change. A recent disclosure by the organization highlighted that cities primarily powered by at least 70% renewable energy sources have seen a twofold increase since 2015.

Of 570 cities in its database, 101 cities harness renewable sources like hydro, wind, and geothermal to meet 70% of their power needs, with 40 fully running on renewable energy.

Such strides are crucial in the battle against climate change, especially considering the rising urban populations worldwide. CDP’s director of cities, Kyra Appleby, noted, “Given that cities contribute to 70% of energy-related CO2 emissions, they have a vast potential to pave the way for a green economy. The current data is heartening as it reflects both dedication and aspiration.”

A growing number of cities globally are setting goals to shift entirely to renewable energy, with 80 cities in the UK and 58 in the US leading the charge. Appleby believes, “Although the shift is demanding, it’s achievable. As renewable energy becomes more affordable and innovations in areas like battery storage and intelligent grid systems advance, other cities worldwide can take inspiration and follow suit.”

burlington vermont

Burlington, Vermont

Burlington is the sole US city among those reporting to the CDP, boasting a 100% reliance on renewable energy. The city draws from various energy sources, with biomass taking the lead, contributing 44% of its energy needs.

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger expressed, “We take immense pride in being the inaugural US city to derive all of our energy from renewable sources. With a balanced combination of biomass, hydro, wind, and solar, we’ve directly experienced the economic uplift and the healthier environment renewable energy provides for our community, making it a better place to live, work, and nurture families.”

brasilia brazil renewable green

Brasília, Brazil

Brazilian cities dominate the CDP’s list regarding reliance on renewable energy, surpassing the combined total of cities in Africa, Asia, and Europe. This remarkable achievement can be attributed primarily to Brazil’s abundant hydropower capabilities. This enables 47 Brazilian cities to use renewable sources to meet 70% of their energy needs. The trend is consistent across South America, home to 57% of the cities mentioned in the CDP report. Of the 570 cities CDP examined, 275 utilize hydropower in their energy equation.

Brasília, the capital of Brazil with 2.5 million inhabitants, depends entirely on hydropower for its electricity. Even though hydropower tops the list of renewable resources in the CDP report, its output can be inconsistent. “There have been instances where hydropower production plummeted year on year because of droughts in certain areas of Latin America,” commented Appleby. “It’s becoming evident to cities, particularly in developing nations and notably Latin America, that diversifying energy sources is vital for a truly sustainable energy framework that aligns with environmental and societal needs.”

inje renewable agency

Inje, South Korea

Currently, no city in Asia tracked by the CDP runs entirely on renewable energy. Appleby suggests that incomplete disclosure plays a part in this observation. “The broader the disclosure we receive from cities, the more accurate a picture we can paint of the worldwide energy transition,” she remarks.

However, there’s no denying Asia’s significant strides toward adopting renewable energy, especially solar. To illustrate, in 2016, China was responsible for installing half the solar panels worldwide.

On the CDP’s list, Inje in South Korea stands as the lone representative from Asia, fulfilling 93% of its energy requirements via renewables. Wind energy accounts for 47% of its consumption. Along with wind, Inje’s energy portfolio includes solar, geothermal, hydro, and biomass, making it one of the most eclectic energy mixes on the CDP list.

Reykjavík, Iceland Green Countries

Reykjavík, Iceland

Iceland, the world’s only nation to completely transition to 100% renewable energy, stands out as a beacon for clean energy implementation. Its geographical edge, with its rich hydro and geothermal resources thanks to its volcanic terrain, has been instrumental in this achievement.

“Cities that report sourcing all their electricity from renewable means often capitalize on their unique environmental assets, be it geothermal reserves or rivers suitable for hydropower,” states Appleby. “Yet the variety of renewable technologies available ensures a viable option for every locale. Transitioning to renewable energy isn’t uniform; our data depicts a vast spectrum of energy sources being tapped.”

Reykjavík is the first European city to go completely green, drawing 70% of its power from hydro resources and the remaining 30% from geothermal. This geothermal energy isn’t limited to electricity alone; it’s extensively used for space and water heating. Utilizing geothermal for heating has reportedly spared Iceland an expenditure of around $100 million on fossil fuel imports.

Quelimane, Mozambique green energy

Quelimane, Mozambique

Though Africa has historically lagged in embracing renewable technologies, the tide is gradually turning. In just the initial half of 2017, investments worth $236 million were directed toward renewable initiatives.

Appleby observes, “The ascent of solar energy in Africa is noteworthy. Cities like Harare, Dar Es Salaam, and Mazabuka already derive over 5% of their total electricity from solar. Kananga in the DRC stands out, sourcing 30% of its electricity from solar power. Off-grid solar solutions emerge as the quickest and most economical electrification for remote, economically disadvantaged regions. This bypasses the substantial infrastructure investments demanded by fossil fuels.”

Nine African cities have successfully shifted to using renewable energy sources for 70% or more of their needs. Three of these cities, including Quelimane in Mozambique, are powered by hydropower. Quelimane, the country’s second-largest city by population, ensures that its 3.85 million residents enjoy electricity purely generated from hydropower.

Adopting Renewables

The global momentum toward embracing renewable energy is steadily growing. Yet, even as costs reduce, hurdles such as political inertia and dominance by utility companies persist. CDP aims to expedite the shift to 100% renewables by showcasing success stories. This serves as inspiration and insights from one another.

“Having the right information accelerates the transition, enabling cities to focus on impactful actions,” comments Appleby.

“Without a clear understanding of effective strategies, cities might miss the critical window to implement change and achieve their targets. Data offers clarity and aids in decision-making and streamlining efficient environmental measures. This underlines why reporting is the fundamental precursor to forging sustainable economies. We urge all cities to report to CDP during May – June 2018.”