ENERGYACCESS Bigger, Smarter Cities

Published on Monday, 16 November 2015

The world's megacities are currently home to nearly 7% of global population, produce around 14% of the globe's GNP, use around 10% of its gas and electricity and are responsible for producing more than 12% of the world's waste. We're talking about urban centres with 10million people or more, cities such as Los Angeles and Tokyo that form a special global ranking that is currently made up of 27 megacities that are set to become 40 by 2030.

The article published on The Guardian entitled 'Megacities: it's time to think big and green' emphasises the main challenges produced by themass urbanisation that is characterising the 21st. century and raises important questions about the sustainable future of the whole world. CO2 emissions reduction, the responsible use of resources and efficient energy consumption are global and shared goals whose achievement is especially mandatory for megacities.

The ongoing urban development process is at the centre of various studies and analyses that offer a survey of this phenomenon, identifying common elements and strategic challenges. The Guardian mentions by way of example the Practical Guidance for Defining a Smart Grid Modernization Strategy study conducted by the World Bank, Cities in the 21st Century, which will be published by Routledge in early  2016, and Energy and material flows of megacities, drawn up by Enel Foundation together with the University of Toronto – a collection of case studies showing the double profile of current and future megacities. In fact, on the one hand megacities resemble living organisms, 'urban metabolisms' that produce, consume and pollute while on the other they are potential innovation laboratories, places destined to welcome and implement sustainable development solutions that are useful for the entire globe.   

Smart technologies and integrated infrastructure are key elements for the future of cities in which electricity is the main development driver, capable of meeting the challenges of pollution, access to energy and the sustainable use of resources.  Projects for the implementation of smart grids, the development of sustainable mobility or distributed generation from renewable sources at the domestic level are part of the path that the Enel Group is following in the countries where it is present, combining technological innovation and social inclusion. The 11 smart cities that Enel is building in Europe and Latin  America, as well as the ongoing access to energy programmes, for example in the megacity of Rio de Janeiro, bear early testimony to a growing activity which, on the one hand, is centered on cooperation among institutions, local communities and companies, and on the other interprets the challenge regarding megacities as an opportunity, in which the advent of bigger and bigger cities results in the development of increasingly green and smart urban centres.