Accelerating Clean Energy Innovation in Cities
Europe's cities, towns and regions are instrumental in promoting ownership of the energy transition and in pushing climate and energy related innovation from within. They are key when it comes to incentivising and speeding up the market uptake of clean energy innovation. The research and innovation strategy for the Energy Union adopted in 2016, Accelerating Clean Energy Innovation, recognises the important role of cities and depicts them as essential actors in the implementation of this strategy.
Numerous EU policies, initiatives, projects and platforms (Horizon 2020, Cohesion Funds, LIFE programme, European Fund for Strategic Investment and national funds) support innovation transforming cities into more sustainable and low carbon entities. Remarkable results have been achieved, as we see cities like Paris and Vienna take strides toward reducing their energy consumption and increase the share of renewables in their energy mix. Yet, to truly speed up the transformation of the energy system to a low carbon one, there is a need to go beyond innovative, efficient and affordable projects and initiatives, but take a step towards sharing and upscaling of innovations.
The European Commission is steering efforts in this direction. It has started a yearly mapping exercise of EU Research and Innovation actions in cities, presented in the "EU Research & Innovation for and with Cities - Yearly Mapping Report September 2017." The Urban Agenda for the EU, also constitutes a step at building bridges and connecting all initiatives and best practice derived from them, through existing European policies, instruments, platforms and programmes. A city portal on the Europa website was established as a one-stop information portal for EU initiatives on cities. In addition, on 29 November 2017, in line with the Urban Agenda, the Commission and the European Investment Bank launched a new advisory service called URBIS to help cities plan and implement investments programmes and projects for sustainable urban development across all sectors, including clean energy.
The Smart Cities and Communities projects, which are part of the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities, have been co-funded by the Horizon 2020 programme of the European Commission since 2005. In fact, Horizon 2020 supported these projects with approximately € 500 million in funding for 2014-2020; some of these projects will unlock up to 20 times more in investments. There are now over 35 of "Lighthouse Cities", spread over the EU and Associated Countries. One example is the Growsmarter project that brings together the Lighthouse Cities of Barcelona, Cologne and Stockholm. They are demonstrating 12 smart innovative solutions that include virtual power plants, open data platforms and the development of mobility hubs.
Written by European Commission, Directorate for Research and Innovation, Energy.