Future trends in sustainable energy production

The UBC TALKS with the topic “Future trends in sustainable energy production” was held on 30 November 2021. In the webinar three speakers from different UBC cities and a representative from Energy Cities tackled the topic from different angles, sharing their solutions and future goals.

First, Erik Tellgren, vice president of Växjö Energi AB, shared Växjö’s ambitious efforts to reach climate neutrality by 2030 and eventually, climate positivity. Located in the middle of Southern Sweden, Växjö is known for its wooden buildings as the city is surrounded by forest. Because of this, bioenergy makes up a large part of the city’s energy production and the company Växjö Energi itself is already completely fossil free. On top of that, Växjö Energi has been a part of other interesting sustainable energy projects, such as sustainable aviation fuel and a Carbon Capture plant, where carbon could be captured, shipped and stored away.

Māris Kānītis, Member of the board of Adven Latvia, presented the collaboration between Adven Latvia and Valmiera municipality and how they together are transitioning from using fossil fuel to sustainable energy production in Valmiera. Currently most of Valmiera’s energy comes from biofuel: biomass being responsible for up to 90% and natural gas the other 10%. Since 2009, Valmiera’s CO2 emissions have reduced by 10 times. Whilst reducing greenhouse gas emissions is an important target for the city, sustainable energy production helps them in many other ways too. According to Mr. Kānītis sustainable energy production has helped Valmiera to minimize overall environmental impacts, gain independence from natural gas price fluctuations and greater stability of heat supply tariffs. This has mainly been achieved thanks to the new boiler house and the modern, automated technologies it has. The old boiler house has also gotten a second life as it has become a meeting place for artist both locally and internationally.

Sini Lamoureux from the city of Turku introduced the RESPONSE project. The city of Turku aims to become carbon neutral by 2029 and climate positive from that point onwards. Renewable energy has a prominent role in this, as well as district heating and electricity production, energy efficiency and sustainable mobility. Turku is one of lighthouse cities in the RESPONSE project, meaning that the solutions developed in Turku will be followed by and applied to other cities in the project. The main focus of the project is PEDs, positive energy districts where a district produces more energy than it uses. In Turku the chosen district has been the Student Village, where different technical solutions, such as human thermal sensation sensors, bi-facial solar panels and nanocoated windows, have been integrated in the buildings to help them reach energy positivity.

Floriane Cappelletti from Energy Cities presented EU energy trends and policies that will influence the cities of tomorrow. The presentation highlighted several directives which lift local authorities in the spotlight, recognizing the need for financial and technical support as well as capacity building. The EU clearly has ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reach carbon neutrality in the coming decade, which is why the main trends recently identified by Energy Cities were climate neutrality and citizen participation.

The webinar also included a 3rd call for the European City Facility applications and a discussion on energy trends that are here to stay. All speakers agreed that local citizens are the main drivers of change as well as cooperation in the region. Inspiring and informing each other help cities to find solutions in terms of renewable energy sources that suit them, since not all solutions are available to all regions. Flexibility was also mentioned as energy prices will mostly likely fluctuate due to the rapid changes in weather caused by climate change.