Speaker Series 2023 #3 | Energy Resilience across the Resilient Cities Network

Apr 2023

About the Session

The Speakers

About this session

Cities are leading the transition to clean energy, but improving access, affordability, and overall resilience of municipal energy systems remains a significant challenge for our network cities, who face a myriad of chronic shocks and stresses that put these systems at risk.

Eskedar Gessesse, Consultant, Programs, Resilient Cities Network, provided an overview of Urban Power, R-Cities’ flagship energy resilience program focused on supporting cities in developing energy projects that help them achieve a green and just energy transition, reach their net-zero ambitions and deliver resilience co-benefits. Building energy resilience is crucial, given that 70% of energy related emissions come from cities and over 1.2 billion urban and peri urban dwellers lack sufficient energy to meet their daily needs. Through the Urban Power program, R-Cities is working with four anchor cities in Latin America and Africa to identify key energy and resilience challenges and to identify targeted, city-specific renewable energy solutions that can help enhance energy resilience across urban systems. The Urban Power Profiles are knowledge products developed under this program that outline learnings from the first phase of implementation in Cali, Cape Town, Lagos and Rio de Janeiro and highlight existing barriers to building urban energy resilience and innovations these cities are adopting to overcome them.

David Beron, Consultant, Corocora, Cali, shared key takeaways from the city of Cali, highlighting the energy resilience and transition targets that Cali is working towards. Mapping and assessment of environmental and socio-economic factors played a major role in understanding Cali’s energy resilience and increasing energy access and affordability. The key energy resilience actions being undertaken by the city revolve around increasing renewable energy generation, improving energy efficiency, and integrating cutting-edge technologies to manage power infrastructure disruptions. The city has been adopting a systems planning approach through a combination of power infrastructure upgrades and adoption of technologies to make systems more reflective. Pilots like the Sustainable Households Program provide solar PV panels and smart meters to vulnerable households to increase renewable energy generation while ensuring that the city’s energy transition work does not leave poor urban residents behind.

Thandeka Tshabalala, Energy Poverty Alleviation Officer, Cape Town, South Africa, talked about sustainable energy markets, energy access and energy poverty alleviation for backyard dwellings in Cape Town. The city is expected to experience high population growth in coming years with rapid growth in the number of low-income households. The municipal government has set a 100% electrification policy for all residents. Despite widespread electrification and subsidization of electricity tariffs and connection costs for low-income residents, many households still struggle to access affordable and reliable electricity. In particular, informal households located in the backyards of formal households are not always able to receive government support and subsidies due to lack of data and metering infrastructure that allows the electric utility and municipal government to identify and provide direct service to these households. The city has deployed various interventions to address energy poverty, including expansion of the national government’s subsidy for electricity tariff to increase affordability for households. The city is also making efforts to scale up interventions through multi-stakeholder partnerships and community participation.

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