With almost three quarters of Europeans living in cities that are consuming 70 % of Europe’s energy, the European Union is focusing on making its cities more efficient by investing € 365 million in smart technology.
In 2011 the European Commission took the first step towards making European cities more energy efficient by launching the Smart Cities and Communities Initiative, investing € 81 million in EU funds in the project.
The initiative covered transport and energy, with the projects financed being in either one of the two sectors, but not the two sectors combined.
However, as a 2008 report on the impact of information and communication technologies (ICT) on energy efficiency showed, ICT also play a key role in energy efficiency by enabling a better use of energy in buildings, transport and street lighting. Moreover, they can also facilitate the integration of locally generated renewable energy into the electricity grid.
At the moment, however, several obstacles, among them technological risks, unprofitable investments and regulatory uncertainty, are limiting this potential of smart technologies.
The European Commission has now consequently launched a Smart Cities and Communities European Innovation Partnership that is to see an investment of € 365 million in 2013, and is to add ICT to the list of areas covered in the scheme.
The aim of the partnership is to boost the development of smart technologies by pooling research resources from energy, transport and ICT and concentrating them on a small number of demonstration projects in partnership with cities. As transport, energy and ICT services are beginning to converge, every demonstration project financed under the scheme must now combine all the three aforementioned sectors.
Read more about how the use of ICT can enable energy efficiency in our White Paper on ICT and Climate Change.
Picture: Flickr/Thoth, God of Knowledge