A low carbon economy, key to the Smart Cities and European competitiveness

A low carbon economy, key to the Smart Cities and European competitiveness
Seville (Spain) has hosted a seminar about smart urban development framed on the SINFONIA European project

This initiative is focused on Smart Cities and aims to promote the urban refurbishment to improve energy efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions.

The SINFONIA project is a complex process in which the technical vision and citizen participation are linked. It also provides an attractive motivation for the regional economy. The challenge is to achieve a society of low carbon economy.

During the event "Achieving affordable comfort", special emphasis was made on three aspects: the transition to a low carbon economy to build a more sustainable and competitive society; the technical challenge and citizen involvement; and the need for cooperation among key actors involved: public administrations, research centres and experts, companies and citizens.

In this regard, citizen awareness and information to consumers were highlighted, to contribute to the understanding and proper use of new technologies. Public funding should also be a tool to promote this new model.

Wolfram Sparber, director of EURAC, Bolzano (Italy), presented the pilot of Bolzano with three main actions: refurbishment of energy efficient buildings (40-50% of energy saving thanks to RES increase); district heating; and smart electricity grid along the city. The technologies applied in Bolzano pilot are more innovative than the ones currently available and aims to be a replicable model. In addition, the pilot takes very much into account the social aspect of tenants.

Klaus Kleewein, Standortagentur Tirol of Innsbruck (Austria), exposed the pilot in Innsbruck. The objectives of this city go through 50% energy savings by 2050, an increase by 30% of RES, and 20% reduction of CO2 emissions. Also, reuse of municipal waste for energy production.

The expert Michael Heidenreich, the BOKU University of Vienna focused on the socio-economic impact and financing models. It was stressed the need for good communication among involved stakeholders in the design of "zero emissions" buildings.

Adolfo Borrero, cofounder of Cactus2e and Bolt Accelerator and Smart Cities expert, pointed out that Spain faces a major challenge to decarbonise the economy based on the objectives of the European Union by 2050. To do so, the urge to Smart Cities as low emissions spaces and improve the quality of life of its inhabitants is necessary. Among other initiatives that foster cooperation between cities and agents in Spain mentioned the Spanish Network of Smart Cities, Red Innpulso or Inertia Alliance.

Javier Gonzalez, R&D and Innovation consultant at ZABALA Innovation Consulting, introduced all the solutions and methodologies developed under the SINFONIA project from which Seville, and other cities, could benefit, i.a., the implementation of technologies, scalability and replicability assessment,  simulation tools, the business plan and analysis of socioeconomic impact.

According to the panel discussion with the participation of local companies, every city may use different tools, tailored to their particular needs. Finally, the importance of interaction and collaboration among organizations was emphasized as well as the involvement of key stakeholders.