The Challenge: Achieving Energy Resilience amidst compounding Shocks and Stresses
The City of the Hague’s Resilience Office calculated what the European energy crisis meant for its inhabitants at the beginning of the winter. If energy prices stayed the same, a third of the city wouldn’t be able to pay its bills.
Around the world, cities are facing stark realities when it comes to their energy systems. High prices emanating from energy crises, increased demand from growing urban populations and pressure to drive a clean energy transition despite national constraints, are causing cities to look for innovative ways to reshape their power production and distribution.
This past November and December, R-Cities hosted its first PowerXChange sessions, the latest knowledge exchange series for members of the Resilient Cities Network (R-Cities). Focused on urban energy resilience, PowerXChange gives cities a forum to discuss energy challenges and share innovative solutions being implemented in the cities leading the urban energy transition.
Small-scale solutions lead to large scale change – The Hague, Netherlands
As Jesse van Velzen from The Hague’s Office of Resilience shared during the first PowerXChange, like many cities, The Hague is facing the need for a quick energy transition. In addition to modifying energy production, the Office of Resilience started to think about how it could also influence consumption, and in doing so accelerate the transition. Conventional communication methods had provided limited results in terms of reaching communities and encouraging behavioral change, so the Office instead turned to small-scale resilience solutions, starting with the implementation of a Resilient Streetlab on a particularly vulnerable street. A manned kiosk was placed on the street in order to create more accessible and convenient channels of communication between residents and municipal workers about energy reduction measures.
At first, residents were slow to engage with the kiosk, but then the Office got creative. Recognizing that building trust is a crucial first step towards meaningful discourse, the office began implementing various interventions in the street, including planting trees and greening facades. The trust, relationships and conversations these actions fostered proved highly impactful. By the time the Streetlab was removed, more and more residents in the street had started to implement energy reduction measures in their own homes.
Crowd sourcing for Innovation – Lagos, Nigeria
Power is one of the biggest infrastructure problems in Lagos and the State primarily depends on the National Grid: 900-1000 MW of energy is received from the two residential distribution companies (DisCos) in the state. According to the State’s Integrated Resource Plan, an estimated 31% of households are connected to the National Grid, with the remaining 69% either off-grid or lacking legal connections.
In the Second PowerXChange meeting, Mariam Ogunkoya, a senior Scientific Officer of Lagos State Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, shared Lagos’ experience hosting a smart metering hackathon in 2020. The hackathon leveraged the state’s young talent to design smart meters that can be produced locally and distributed across Lagos State. Once produced, these smart meters will permit the State Government to track and analyze consumption, providing real-time data and remote monitoring across the city, and ensuring the aggregated commercial technical and collection losses which plague the resident DisCos are reduced.
Understanding the energy system is key to its resilience. As Pedro Rolim, Manager of Sustainability and Resilience for the Executive Office of Rio de Janeiro, who presented at the second PowerXChange session said: “Without data on our current situation, we don’t have a goal to pursue.”
Knowledge Exchange for Increased Understanding
The PowerXChange sessions are hosted under Urban Power, an R-Cities program focused on enhancing and expanding urban energy resilience. In addition to working with four network cities to critically evaluate the local energy system, this program will drive energy resilience projects that directly benefit vulnerable communities across Africa and Latin America and the Carribean. Urban Power is also developing tools that cities will be able to use to evaluate their own energy systems, which will be presented in future PowerXChange sessions.
To learn more about the program and participating cities visit: https://resilientcitiesnetwork.org/urban-power/ or email email@example.com.