Cities now have an unprecedented opportunity to transform and decarbonise their energy supply and use, according to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Renewable Energy in Cities, which was realised on the sidelines of the Habitat III Conference in Quito, estimates energy use in 3,649 cities and explores their potential to scale-up renewable energy by 2030. It finds that while there is no one-size fits all solution, every city has massive potential to cost-effectively boost renewable energy use at the local level.
Electricity use varies widely across cities depending on climate conditions, population density and development stage. Likewise, energy use for transport varies greatly depending on urbanisation models.
Today, renewables supply only 20% of this energy, but much more is possible. Renewable Energy in Cities outlines three priority areas – both in technology and in policy – where cities can take action to scale up renewables use: renewable energy in buildings (for heating, cooling, cooking, and appliances); sustainable options for transport (electric mobility and biofuels); and creating integrated urban energy systems.
Accounting for 65% of global energy use and 70% of man-made carbon emissions, cities must play a key role in the transition to a low-carbon economy. By highlighting best practice from cities around the world, the report shows what is possible and what policies are needed to enable the change. It also provides concrete examples of how city actors can accelerate the switch to renewable energy at the local level by acting as planners, regulators, financiers and operators of urban infrastructure.