Energy transition can be defined as a shift from a system dominated by finite energy (chiefly fossil-based) towards a system using a majority of renewable energy sources, also optimising the effective use of energy and minimise primary energy demand. As with many challenges, urban areas are places where the greatest progress can be made on energy transition and efficiency. Indeed, how cities grow and operate has a huge impact on energy demand as they account for 60 to 80% of global energy consumption and produce around the same share of CO2 emissions. For years’ cities have been pushing ahead with local initiatives and projects on sustainable energy and have been leading from the front on the issue of transition to a more efficient energy production, distribution and consumption to secure its supply, affordability and support industry and competitiveness of the EU economy. The first UIA call for proposals in 2015 invited urban authorities to elaborate innovative solutions to tackle:
- Distribution and production issues, especially regarding renewable energy at local level.
- Energy efficiency issues, in order to minimise the risk of energy poverty and its consequences (e.g. poor health, child poverty, educational under-achievement etc.). Thus, it was recommended to develop energy retrofits, buildings’ energy renovation and smart energy management in public infrastructure and the housing sector.
- Energy demand issues by promoting behavioural change and increasing the adoption of low carbon technologies such as nature-based solutions to heat/cool buildings and neighbourhoods.
Energy transition thus encompasses technological, societal, cultural, economic and environmental aspects and also requires an active role for citizens and communities.