EU Green Cities - latest developments

Austria

Güssing – a key early project, opened in 1996, was a €10.1 million biomass district heating plant using fuel from wood chips. This provides heating and hot water to houses via a 27-km grid, without the need for individual boilers. In all, there are more than 30 renewable energy projects, including biodiesel, biogas and photovoltaic plants. Güssing is now home to the European Centre for Renewable Energy and companies in the region export renewable energy technologies and expertise internationally. From spending €6.2 million on energy in 1991, the municipality now generates €13.6 million from the sector – with 1,000 new jobs created and 50 companies attracted to the area since then.

Linz Solar City - Its hub is a tram station, with shops, a church and bars – and 1,300 modern buildings grouped around it. The most striking are laid out in the form of an amphitheatre, so that each gets maximum benefit from the sun and capitalising solar thermal and photovoltaics. A large biogas power plant 2km away provides another energy source for the city.

Denmark

Samsø - This small area of land in the Kattegat Sea is home to 4,500 residents and gets 100% of its electricity and most of its heat from renewables. The island has 21 wind turbines, of which ten are offshore – with five owned by the municipality. Many houses have installed technologies such as solar heating and heat pumps. Islanders were able to invest in the co- operatives that financed the wind farms and other renewable energy projects – giving partial community ownership of the scheme.

Germany

Freiburg im Breisgau – is a well known and leading example. The newly built neighbourhoods of Vauban and Rieselfeld were sustainably developed and built, following a resolution in 1992 by the city council that it would only permit construction of low energy buildings on municipal land and all new buildings must comply with low energy specifications. Freiburg is host to the International Solar Energy Society.

The Netherlands

Amsterdam - launched Smart City plans in June 2009 to be a smart city by the end of 2010.

Apeldoorn - Has set a target of getting 100% of its energy from sustainable sources by 2020.  In one project, the city renovated 364 houses in the St Joseph social housing community – fitting better insulation, replacing boilers, and adding rooftop photovoltaic panels that produce up to 1MW of energy in total. Renewable energy subsidies from various sources made up around half of the €11.75 million project costs. Tenants accepted a €20-€25 per month rent increase to help pay for the work; and in return the energy company promised them an equivalent amount off their fuel bills.

Spain

Navarra – With more than 30 wind farms in the region producing some 65% of its electricity from renewable sources and creating some 6,000 jobs is benefitting from long-term investment in renewables. Other renewable technologies which have benefitted from local investment include mini-hydro, biomass and solar power – and government education efforts have helped win solid backing from the community.

Sweden

Gothenburg - leads the way in renewable fuels in transport. The 13 municipalities in and around the city joined forces with private companies such as Volvo and Hertz, plus farmers and government agencies, to create Biogas West – a consortium to invest in and promote biogas. It produced biogas at the region’s existing sewage and waste treatment plants; then used the existing natural gas grid as a backup system, to maintain a constant supply of fuel for bus fleets. Now the government and participating councils have backed plans to build 200 new biogas stations – expansion which could mean drivers use 35 million fewer litres of petrol and diesel, cutting carbon emissions by 50,000 tonnes a year.

UK

Newcastle, Bristol and Brighton are 1, 2 and 3 on the UK Sustainable City index with Aberdare in Wales is the UK’s first low carbon town.

Green Buildings and Green Urban Development will be a major part of the discussions within European Future Energy Forum conference as well as the Future Urban Zone within the exhibition.