68% of Europeans lives in cities, consuming 70% of the EU's energy. This means that urban development policies are quite important for sustaining the EU and its citizens in status quo of consumption in the coming years (with more and more energy being spent on ICT, transport etc.). Here is where the concept of "Smart Cities and Communities" is supposed to help out - by introducing innovative technologies that improve the efficiency of the urban environment.
Last week the European Commission launched a Smart Cities and Communities European Innovation Partnership (SCC), in which research resources are pooled from energy, transport and ICT and concentrated on a small number of demonstration projects which will be implemented in partnership with cities. This means that in 2013 the budget for innovation will be increased from € 81 Million to € 365 Million, and instead of just being spent on transport and energy, ICT projects would be implemented as well.
"Innovation drives Europe's competitiveness and is the best means of addressing energy efficiency. Thanks to this partnership, high efficiency heating and cooling systems, smart metering, real-time energy management, or zero-energy buildings neighbourhoods solutions will spread among more and more European cities." said Günther Oettinger, Energy Commissioner (Commission launches innovation partnership for Smart Cities and Communities)
What kind of projects could be co-financed by the EU?
- smart buildings and neighbourhood projects - integrating local renewable energy sources; using highly efficient heating and cooling systems (e.g., biomass, solar thermal, etc.); aiming towards zero-energy buildings;
- smart supply and demand service projects - providing information to consumers on energy consumption/production, multimodal transport and mobility services; developing smart metering;
- urban mobility projects - introducing more electric public transport vehicles; using ICT to manage energy flows or using hydrogen as energy carrier - energy flow would be controlled by ICT using forecasts for demand patterns based on weather forecasts, event planning etc.;
- smart and sustainable digital infrastructures - reducing carbon footprint on the internet; intelligent heating, cooling and lighting solutions.