Presidency Dialogue on Smart Cities revealed a strive for action
On Wednesday May 31, more than 50 representatives of stakeholders within the cleantech agenda met in Brussels for the Presidency Dialogue on Smart Cities.
Mr Jacob Bundsgaard, Mayor of Aarhus, opened the event on behalf of the Permanent Representation of Denmark to the European Union and DAcoB, the Brussels co-operation between Danish municipalities, regions and universities in Brussels.
In particular, Mr Bundsgaard emphasized the open approach of the event based on dialogue, as this is an issue of high importance to all EU Member States. Energy efficiency, energy supply, clean environment and transport are key points and will be further discussed in the following debate, he said.
Mr Martin Andersen, Head of the Kalundborg EU-Office in Brussels, presented the first two keynote speakers and moderated the first part of the event. The first key note speaker was Ms Connie Hedegaard, Commissioner for Climate Action, followed by Mr Anders Stouge, Vice President of the Danish Energy Association.
Commissioner Hedegaard wants Europe to make up its mind
Commissioner Hedegaard started her presentation by underlining that Smart Cities are a crucial part of Europe’s future. Despite the fact that we do have intelligent solutions and networks between cities as well as the knowledge and tools to improve energy efficiency, the implementation of best practice is too slow.
The commissioner expressed concern that despite the hard work by the Danish Presidency regarding the energy efficiency directive, some Member States are “diluting” it, contributing to the slow-down of the implementation. “Now it is time for Europe to make up its mind”, she said. Setting ambitious, long-term targets for energy efficiency will have an enormous impact on job creation and competitiveness in Europe for the next many years.
Europe must set specific targets, not just for 2020, but also for 2030 and 2040, the commissioner stated. This will send an important signal to investors that Europe’s ambitions go way further than just 2020. The Commissioner raised two questions as her main message: What are the barriers for implementation? Why is Europe not bringing models such as the ESCO into scale? The renewable sector can potentially create a large amount of jobs and improve mobility within cities. Therefore best practice must be demonstrated and implemented in order for Europe to be competitive and independent in the future.
Value of ICT for energy sector
Mr Stouge, Vice President at Danish Energy Association, applauded Commissioner Hedegaard for her ambition for more new renewable energy targets for 2030 or even 2040. Smart Cities should be part of that solution, he said and elaborated this by stating that Smart Grid is the backbone of Smart Cities; no Smart City without integrating new technologies on a local level. As urbanization seems to be an inevitable fact, it is necessary to find alternative energy solutions.
By introducing ICT solutions, it is possible to manage integration of smart buildings to energy production and consumption when there is an energy surplus or deficit. The European Commission should, Mr Stouge incited, play an active role in promoting a change of mind-set among consumers. Simultaneously, he recommended the European Commission to create more incentives and legal transparency in order to promote private investments in Smart Grid.
Panel with discussions about local needs
Professor Lene Lange, Director of Research at Aalborg University, chaired the panel following the preliminary keynote speeches. The panel consisted of Ms Marie Donnelly, Director at DG Energy, Mr Charles Nielsen, Innovation Director at Dong Energy, Sir Graham Watson, MEP and Chairman of the Climate Parliament, Mr Stef Le Févre, Advisor at the Climate & Energy Office at Amsterdam, and Mr Nicolai Zarganis, from the Danish Ministry of Climate, Energy and Buildings.
Professor Lange argued that we need new technologies but we must also in parallel and as guidance stimulate to public debate. Involvement of the citizens - the smart citizen - is a key for success. For this we need new thinking and new concepts!
As the first panellist and representative of the European Commission, Ms Donnelly elaborated on Mr Stouge’s presentation by concluding that ICT is indeed necessary to make new sustainable, urban energy solutions. The Energy Roadmap 2050 is a political framework giving options to local and national authorities in the future. Energy efficiency and renewable energy sources are key elements, but when responding to local energy challenges Smart Cities should identify the elements most relevant to its own energy composition. Ms Donnelly finished her presentation by stating that consumers in general are lazy – meaning that new knowledge and creation of incentives are both necessary preconditions in order to help consumers exercise environmentally friendly choices.
Control supply and demand
Mr Nielsen stated that, while we previously developed a dependency on fossil fuels, we now need to develop a dependency on renewable energies. The most efficient way to do so is by controlling both the supply side and the demand side of energy production, as well as taking advantage of the large energy potential in waste materials. By integrating all energy infrastructures, renewable energy sources can gradually become a more important part of the energy supply.
“The wind is always blowing somewhere!”
To shed light on the law-making institutions’ support to facilitate green growth, Sir Graham Watson declared that there is no excuse not being a Smart City, as there are numerous ways to integrate smart solutions in a city’s energy mix: Smart lighting, heating etc. It is, however, necessary to further develop a common European framework. As Sir Graham pointed out: “The wind is always blowing somewhere!”
Good experience in bringing sectors to cooperate
Mr Le Févre, representing Amsterdam Smart City, said that a Smart City is not an entity but a way of bringing people together in new ways. Gathering data and making it available as information in order to facilitate a multiple sector cooperation, is one major challenge for the Smart City. On the other hand, Amsterdam has had good experiences in bringing in private companies to cooperate with public authorities in order to enhance implementation of new technologies and energy approaches in the city.
PPP is one way to achieve results
Mr Zarganis, who as representative of the Danish Presidency was the final panellist to present his views, wrapped up the panel contributions by pointing out that Denmark has set up very ambitious energy goals, which cities must help to achieve. Public-private partnerships targeting projects in narrow fields of the energy system is one way to achieve the ambitious goals set up for the Smart Cities. According to Nicolai Zarganis, national funding will help attract foreign investors in energy projects.
Birgitte Wederking, head of creoDK representing the University of Copenhagen, DTU and the Capital Region of Denmark in Brussels, closed the seminar and thanked everyone for their contributions and efforts in relation to the 3 Presidency Dialogues during the Danish Presidency.