The eighth annual Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) – the foremost platform for energy professionals, policymakers and commentators to discuss and share best practices and solutions within the global energy space – was held this year from 24 to 28 October.
SIEW 2015 focused on ‘Global Energy Transitions’ as its theme, reflecting on the dynamic nature of the global energy landscape in light of recent developments, such as falling oil prices, technological advancements and the growing importance of sustainable development.
Among the events featured during this year’s programme was the ‘Renewable Energy Deployment in Cities’ roundtable. Organised by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the platform aimed at exploring options for accelerating the deployment of renewables in cities.
Identifying opportunities in Asia
According to IRENA, cities use 75 per cent of global energy consumption and only two per cent of global land area. Also, the urban population is projected to increase from 52 per cent in 2010 to 60 per cent in 2030, adding 1.4 billion people to cities.For megacities – cities inhabited by more than 10 million people – this means that energy infrastructure needs to be cost-effective and reliable. In Asia, this will be particularly challenging, as the region already hosts 23 out of the 36 megacities in the world.
IRENA is not alone in calling for international cooperation to increase energy efficiency in megacities. Chief of the Sustainable Urban Development Section of UNESCAP, Donovan Storey, also spoke at the roundtable, emphasising the urgent need for Asian countries to transition to a low-carbon economy, and stressed the urgency of decoupling urbanisation and economic growth from high-energy consumption rates.
Fortunately, the world is listening. In the Asian region, China has made a series of pledges to reduce its carbon emissions, committing to goals such as creating new green building standards and generating more than 100MW of wind power. Seoul has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency, while India and Japan are focusing on developing smart cities.
Japan was among three countries singled out for high praise in Donovan Storey’s presentation, as he lauded the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s 10-Year Project for a Carbon-Minus Tokyo. Through advanced energy-saving measures and strict compliance, Tokyo aims to achieve significant CO2 reductions across all sectors of the city.
From voracious megacities to sustainable towns
Apart from retrofitting its capital city with more energy-efficient technology and structuring sustainable policies, Japan’s answer to achieving a low-carbon economy is to focus on developing smart towns to make more efficient use of land and energy infrastructure. One such instance is Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town (Fujisawa SST).
Spearheaded by Panasonic in collaboration with Fujisawa City, Japan and 11 partner companies, Fujisawa SST is a case study that features an entire smart town with a thriving, close-knit community committed to environmental care. By carefully integrating Panasonic’s smart home solutions with town management, Fujisawa SST aims to achieve an overall 70 per cent reduction in CO2 and 30 per cent reduction in water use.
Also, the design of Fujisawa SST enables its residents to have a comfortable, healthy, mobile and eco-friendly lifestyle, ensuring everyone is cared for without depleting the environment of resources. Residents began moving into the town from April 2014 and have commended the project for bringing to life an environment that is safe, child-friendly, and one that encourages them to be more eco-conscious.
Designed and built based on a 100-year vision of sustainable nurturing and development, Fujisawa SST today serves as a model for future towns.