The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) released a study on renewable energy policies for cities last month. The reason for the focus on cities is due to their ability to scale up renewables and meet emission-reduction targets. Large cities have the revenue bases, regulatory frameworks, and infrastructure to support this while smaller ones usually don’t.
The study pointed out that it’s mostly cities that are raising awareness and moving towards energy transitions. Smaller and even medium-sized cities that have 1 million or fewer inhabitants usually don’t have the funding or political support to embrace renewables, and they are also not as highly visible as megacities.
The study analyzed six medium-sized cities from China, Uganda, and Costa Rica. They were chosen due to two reasons:
- They have effective policies in place, or
- They have untapped renewable energy sources that could launch their sustainable development.
A Quick Look At The Study
The study takes a dive into the challenges and successes that are seen in the deployment of renewable energy in medium-sized cities and provides case studies of the six cities studied. A quick look at the executive summary shows that these cities have a population range from 30,000 to 1 million inhabitants.
Altogether, cities are responsible for around 70% of global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. Urban areas have high rates of air pollution as well, with 98% of cities with over 100,000 inhabitants in low- and middle-income countries failing to meet the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) air quality guidelines.
Renewable energy technologies (RETs) play a central role in easing the severity of climate change while providing cleaner air. Research is often focused on the urban trends of particular sets of global megacities and doesn’t really focus any attention on cities with 1 million or fewer inhabitants, which is the fastest growing category and home to some 2.4 billion people (59% of the world’s total urban population).
Cities are motivated to promote renewables by several factors, such as:
- Economic development and jobs.
- Social equity.
- Air quality.
- Secure and affordable energy.
- Such as access to clean energy.
- Climate stability.
- Energy-related policymaking requires a lot of flexibility — it involves governance structures and processes as well as the diverse motivations of many stakeholders.
Cities’ plans need to be tailored to their own circumstances, and some factors shaping city energy profiles include:
- Demographic trends.
- Climate zone.
- Ownership of energy assets.
- Settlement density.
- Regulatory authority.
- Institutional capacity.
- Economic structure and wealth.
Case Studies 1 & 2: Chongli District and Tongli Town
The two cities in this section are Chongli District and Tongli Town. In the cases of these two Chinese cities, the study found that both benefit from the availability of large-scale renewable energy projects, with wind and solar being the best options. It has a level of existing deployment which provides a solid base for the cities’ ambitious targets compared to other cities where renewables aren’t as present.
The Chinese cities benefit from the availability of financial resources that target renewable energy deployment. Tongli Town receives support from its upper-level administration, which has one of the largest revenue streams among Chinese city governments.
Tongli Town is one of the most replicable in developed cities that resemble Suzhou. Although Zhangjiakou City isn’t as wealthy as Suzhou, the Chongli District was able to receive financial support from the national government as a result of the Winter Olympics.
Its example shows that distributed renewables could also play a large role in cities. PV generation systems could be deployed outside of highly populated city centers, for example. Tongli Town also benefits from the relationship between local governments and local manufacturing industries that deploy RETs.
Showcase events such as the Winter Olympics also help a city gain visibility — this is what happened with the Chongli District. It and the Zhangjiakou Municipality linked the development targets of local renewables with the hosting arrangements of the Winter Olympics. This focused political attention and financial support on renewable energy projects.
Cross-governmental collaboration and existing manufacturing industries benefitting from renewable deployment also played key roles.
Case Studies 3 & 4: Kasese and Lugazi
This case study focused on the Ugandan cities of Kasese and Lugazi. Uganda has a variety of energy resources that includes hydropower, biomass, solar, geothermal, peat, and fossil fuels. Yet only 20% of the population has access to electricity. The World Bank estimated in 2017 that only 2% of the nation’s population has access to clean cooking fuels and technologies.
In Uganda, renewable energy deployment benefits the local communities in many ways while boosting socio-economic goals. In both Lugazi and Kasese, solar street lighting and solar home systems (SHSs) massively saved both municipalities and households while extending business hours for street sellers. It’s also improved public safety and telecommunications, which led to the creation of job opportunities.
Ugandan cities face obstacles to greater local deployment. Institutional constraints, such as narrow political mandates and tight municipal finances, present huge obstacles to effective policy action. Scaling up projects will need greater funding as well as capacity building. This requires a national enabling framework that supports the local government at the district and municipal levels. Kasese and Lugazi have benefited from initiatives targeting sustainable energy at the district level.
Financial resources for both district and municipal governments are needed. Renewables may offer savings in the long run, but the upfront costs usually surpass the funds available to Uganda’s municipalities and districts. For now, initiatives such as solar street lighting are usually linked to third-party financing support. An example of this is the World Bank’s Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development Programme.
Case Studies 5 & 6: Cartago and Grecia, and Guanacaste
Costa Rica has a population of around 5 million people and is the smallest of the three countries that were studied in the report. Some key questions discussed in the country include what role is played by the public and private sectors and what degree to which electricity generation should be based on centralized and decentralized sources. Some of the key issues and challenges that shape the nation’s efforts to promote the use of renewable energy include:
- Strengthening cities’ ability to act with a diverse set of actors.
- Transport as the next frontier.
For cities without the mandate, their scopes of action are limited and this is one of the main obstacles to a sustainable urban future. In the case of Cartago and Grecia, the cities have taken active measures to promote green policies in the transport and tourism sectors. Costa Rica’s “capital of renewable energy,” Guanacaste, has hosted several projects in the fields of wind, solar, and geothermal energy.
Another key lesson from the study in the case of Costa Rica is that when the share of renewables in the electricity mix is already high, transport becomes the next frontier. Compared to Columbia, Panama, and Chile, Costa Rica has a lack of municipal transport. The other countries are advancing with electric buses and other electric-mobility projects and these contrast with Costa Rica.
You can read the full 158-page report here.
Elon Musk says Tesla has a ‘performance Cybertruck’
Elon Musk reveals that Tesla has a ‘performance Cybertruck’ – indicating that it could be one of the first versions of the electric pickup truck.
Tesla is on the verge of delivering the first Cybertruck.
Despite the automaker having produced likely hundreds of trucks and being about to start deliveries, there’s still a lot we don’t know about the electric pickup truck.
Tesla first unveiled the Cybertruck in 2019 and announced specs and pricing at the time, but the automaker is known to update its vehicles significantly from prototype to production. On top of it, the auto market has changed a lot since then, and that is expected to completely change the prices that Tesla announced for the Cybertruck.
Those expected changes have led to speculation about which Cybertruck models are going to be available, when, and at what prices.
We have recently seen evidence that at least some of Tesla’s Cybertruck release candidates are dual-motor powertrain trucks, which is leading people to believe that it might likely be the first
Now CEO Elon Musk is now adding some information into the mix by saying on X that he recently drove a “performance Cybertruck”:
I just drove the performance Cybertruck today and it kicks ass next-level.
This means that Tesla currently has a “performance” version of the Cybertruck, which could mean it could be amongst the first versions to come to market.
Tesla has previously announced a tri-motor version of the Cybertruck with the following specs:
- Tri Motor AWD with 500+ miles of range, 0-60 mph in 2.9 seconds, top speed of 130 mph, and starting price of $69,900
That could certainly qualify as a “performance version”, but there have also been rumors of Tesla offering a potential quad-motor version of the Cybertruck, which could have even higher performance.
Tesla is expected to announce all the details of the Cybertruck at a delivery event, which could come within the next few weeks.
This 100 MPH ‘street legal’ 2-seater electric race car from China looks pretty legit
Most of the fun and funky vehicles I manage to dredge up for the Awesomely Weird Alibaba Electric Vehicle of the Week are big on weirdness but short on power. This time that seems to be reversed, as this electric race car is more wild than weird and comes with some seriously impressive performance.
This isn’t some slow crawling electric battle tank or ice-cream truck shaped like a VW bus. Those are more typical of this series on odd Chinese EVs, but this time we’re going all-in for extreme performance.
That means you’d better be ready to buckle in for speeds of up to 160 km/h (100 mph)! And based on some of these product photos, I wouldn’t mind buckling into the passenger seat for the first few rides.
Powering this little racer’s rear wheels is a 10 kW (13.5 hp) electric motor, which might not sound that powerful, but remember just how potent the low end torque from an electric motor is for rocketing off the line.
And since the entire vehicle only weighs 650 kg (1,433 lb), not to mention an extra 45 kg (100 lb) of cover girl model, there just isn’t that much mass here to be accelerated.
Plus the Chinese tend to rate motors with continuous power, not peak power. So there’s probably more kilowatts under the hood than we’re expecting. There’s no information on what kind of controller is powering that motor, but I’d wager that the peak power could be closer to 20 kW (27 hp).
There’s also a surprisingly large battery in this little racer, to the tune of 14.4 kWh. It’s a 96V pack built from LG lithium-ion cells and would give several American electric motorcycles a run for their money.
According to the vendor, it should be enough for 150 km (96 miles) of range per charge, though there’s no mention if that’s on a city street track or the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Speaking of city streets, the company says that the vehicle is ECE certified and “can be legally driven on European streets”. I guess we’ll just have to take their word on that, unless someone wants to buy one of these and try it out themselves.
There’s no word on DOT-certification and so it’s likely not street legal in the US. But that might not stop someone from going full-‘Murica doing donuts in the local Krogers parking lot with their bald eagle riding shotgun.
If you want to get some skin in the game (eagle not included), it’s going to cost you a cool US $28,000. Or at least that would be the first payment. There’s no telling how much you’d have to fork over afterwards for ocean freight, import charges, taxes, and other add-on charges along the way.
But for anyone hoping to try their luck with the local European cops, it’s at least comforting to see that these vehicles seem to actually be in real production.
The vendor shared several images of what look like a sea of frames alongside several partially assembled race cars.
I’m not recommending anyone actually try to buy one of these from Alibaba. In fact, I’d probably recommend the opposite. Let’s just treat this as a fun window-shopping exercise.
But for the person who inevitably ignores my warnings (as many of my readers have been known to do) and plunks down some serious cash for one of these, let me know if and when it arrives. I will be there in a second to go for a ride with you!
This EV fast charging station tells you when its power is at its cheapest and greenest
This DC fast charging station tells EV drivers when renewable energy is at its peak in the grid – and thus when charging prices are cheapest.
The “Better Energy Charge” station in Sønderborg, Denmark, is owned by renewable energy company Better Energy. (It sits next to the company’s R&D solar park.)
What makes this charging station unique is its dynamic pricing model. It differs from traditional fixed pricing schemes because it incentivizes EV drivers with lower charging prices when renewable energy is at its peak on the grid.
The charging price, which is available the day before, follows the Danish energy spot prices. Similar to a gas station’s pricing signs, the EV charging station’s price board is visible from the road. (Why don’t all EV charging stations do this?)
“We want to encourage people to charge their cars when there is a lot of renewable electricity in the grid by making it cheaper when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing,” said Peter Munck Søe-Jensen, EVP of power solutions at Better Energy.
The Danish company feels its model helps drivers plan in advance to charge their EVs when energy is at its cheapest. And by charging EVs when solar and wind energy production is high, consumers can also increase the probability that it’s renewable, not fossil fuel-powered, energy.
What do you think of this model? Have you seen anything similar? Let us know in the comments below.
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