The analysis of present and future energy demand is a fundamental step to guide the construction of actions related to renewable energy and energy efficiency and, in this way, contribute to sustainable urban development.
Between April and May, the municipalities of Avellaneda, Rosário and La Plata, in Argentina, held the 2050 Visioning Workshop, with the intention of preparing scenario projections for the future of cities and offering inspiration to the actors involved in the process, establishing a basis for concrete action in the territories in relation to the energy transition.
Organized with the support of ICLEI, the workshops marked the beginning of the development of the Roadmaps for 100% Renewable Energies for the municipalities. During the meeting, the city’s baselines were presented, gathering information on the current state of the energy system, the composition of the energy matrix, the forms of energy generation and distribution, as well as the composition of current demand, the demand projection future and a study of the potential of renewable energy generation. Data were collected by city halls, with the support of ICLEI. Access the Initial Status Reporters of Avellaneda (in English), Rosario and La Plata here (in Spanish).
In addition, a study on the national energy panorama was developed, summarized in the Argentine Energy Scenario Analysis report (in English).
Chosen as a model city for the 100% Renewables Energy project in Argentina, Avellaneda held the Visioning Workshop on April 28th. It was attended by the Mayor of Avellaneda, Dionisio Scarpin, the Secretary for Ecosystem Development and Climate Change of the Government of the Province of Santa Fé, Jorge Caminos, and the representative of the Directorate of Renewable Energies of the Argentine Ministry of Economy, Gabriela Rijter, in addition to members of the project’s Local Working Group.
Mayor Dionisio Scarpin said that participating in the project is a unique opportunity for the city to promote a more efficient use of energy. “In addition to the results, the most important thing is to achieve a cultural change, by habit, in the way we want to live in our city. Sometimes this is the most difficult point, but also the most necessary for us to be successful in this journey”, Scarpin reflected.
The energy transition, therefore, must be seen beyond the transformation in the technologies used for the generation and distribution of energy – so that it is clean and accessible to everyone – but it is also essential to involve in this process a deep reflection on the demand and energy use itself, in order to reduce future energy demand and rationalize transition measures. Furthermore, the efficiency of energy systems makes it more accessible and less costly to maintain adequate levels of quality of life for all citizens.
The mayor highlighted the importance of the project being appropriated by the various spheres of local actors. “It is essential that we devote time to thinking about and imagining the Avellaneda 2050. These dreams will allow us to elaborate the different steps to be taken in the coming years to achieve the goals of 100% renewable energy, strengthening us as a model for our region and our country.”
According to Argentine legislation, the use of electricity from renewable sources should reach 20% of the total demand by 2025. “In this sense, the last few years have been encouraging”, pointed out Rijter, noting that 122 renewable energy projects are in operation in the country, in all 23 provinces – Santa Fé has four such initiatives, one in Avellaneda. “We want to closely monitor a project as innovative and ambitious as the one taking place in Avellaneda.”
By setting targets for the implementation and use of renewable energy sources, local governments participating in the project seek a fundamental change to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase resilience in their territories. In addition, they contribute to the country’s strategic objectives and, in particular, to Argentina’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), strengthening the international commitments assumed by the country in terms of reducing emissions.
The workshop presented a diagnosis of the energy scenario of Avellaneda in recent years, prepared by the Local Working Group (LWG) of the city, with the support of Marco Massacesi, the project’s technical consultant. Regarding energy consumption, in 2016 the city average was 100 GWh, with large industries accounting for more than half (56%) of that number.
Dr. Annette Steingrube, from the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE), spoke about the importance of building a model for the Avellaneda energy system. It is a mathematical model, in which local data are inserted to project demand in 2050 and analyze the ideal composition of the city’s renewable energy matrix to meet future needs.
The models start from the baseline drawn by the LWG to consider future scenarios for renewable energy generation. Dr. Steingrube presented the model’s parameters, considerations, and input data, as well as its preliminary results.
According to her, the city has a high potential for the production of biogas from waste generated on chicken farms and the installation of photovoltaic and wind power plants in open fields where there are pastures. However, the proper balance in the use of these solutions to meet energy demand depends on fuel costs and the cost of developing technologies.
Justice and energy transition
The energy transition is a long-term process, the result of institutional, technological, social and environmental agreements. This is the opinion of Dr. Rita Lambert, a professor at University College London, who presented the fundamental principles related to the design of energy transitions and the lessons that can be learned from communities not reached by the traditional energy network.
“It is important to recognize everyone who is part of this system, assessing the benefits and harms of this process and the key components to ensure that these transitions are more sustainable and fair. It is necessary to consider justice as fundamental to the energy transition. An unfair transition is not sustainable”, says the professor.
She shared the reflections obtained in the research project GEMDev (Energy Models for Equitable Urban Development in the Global South), which contributes to inclusive decision-making that establish a sustainable, safe and accessible energy system, linked to decent housing for all. As cities in the global south grow mainly through informal processes, it is essential to consider the inequalities and everyday practices of informal settlements in order to design a sustainable and just energy transition.
“When we talk about this topic, the relationships with other systems, such as housing or urban planning, should be taken into account. The reconfiguration of space has consequences on energy consumption, social relationships, work opportunities, thermal comfort, and culture. It requires rethinking the type of city that is being built in the name of progress”, points out Lambert.
Present at the opening of the meeting, the executive secretary of ICLEI South America, Rodrigo Perpétuo, reinforced the inspiration that Avellaneda is offering not only to Argentine municipalities, but also to all cities in the global south.
“Innovative energy transition projects give us the opportunity to scale and strengthen the race towards carbon neutrality. Avellaneda’s leadership and the involvement of multilevel actors, added to the participation of civil society and academia, provide legitimacy and quality to this process of transformation”, he observed.
Director of ICLEI Argentina, Maria Julia Reyna highlighted Avellaneda’s role as a model city for 100%RE in the country. “This is a huge opportunity to align efforts, with a dialogue between different actors. Governance is the way to build a city centered on well-being and sustainable development.”
Visioning 2050 – Avellaneda
The second stage of the workshop offered a moment for the actors involved in Avellaneda’s energy transition process to consider the principles that will be included in the city’s Roadmap.
Among the dreams to be fulfilled in the short term, the participation of youth in climate issues and the decentralization of the energy system were listed; for the medium term, the application of energy efficiency in energy supply and demand is included, in addition to a greater incentive for the use of clean energy; in the long run, it is expected that energy resources are considered as a local input, rather than a commodity, and generate energy from all waste produced in the territory.
Visioning 2050 – Rosário
On May 13, it was Rosário’s turn to hold the 2050 Visioning Workshop, bringing together local actors to dream of a city that reaches the year 2050 more resilient and sustainable.
Among the participants in the session were Diego Leone, secretary of the Environment and Public Space of Rosario; as well as Gabriela Ritjer, Jorge Caminos, Rodrigo Perpétuo and Maria Julia Reyna.
“In Rosário we have the habit of working across all environmental and energy issues, as was done in the preparation of our Climate Action Plan”, declared Leone. “We appreciate the opportunity to work with ICLEI so that our city has a clear and concise project on renewable energy.”
Representing the technical coordination of the Undersecretary for the Environment, Daniela Mastrangelo bets on the creation of a decentralized energy distribution model by 2050, in which everyone can generate their own energy. “However, the energy transition is not just about facilitating access to renewable energy sources, but also about rethinking how we use them. It is vital to question the high energy consumption and this is a great cultural challenge”, she reflected.
Among the dreams listed by the participants are the implementation of distributed generation, including access financing plans, and the creation of strategies to ensure sustainable mobility.
Visioning 2050 – La Plata
On May 17, the 2050 Visioning Workshop took place in La Plata. The meeting helped the city take its first step in building a shared vision for the development of 100% Renewable Energies by the year 2050, being a collaborative space to advance the city’s energy transition.
In addition to Maria Julia Reyna and Gabriela Rijter, the meeting was attended by Gustavo Kienzelmann, general director of Investment Attraction and International Relations of La Plata, and Mercedes Fino, from the Organization for Sustainable Development of Buenos Aires.
Kienzelmann thanked those present for their participation and collaboration. “We are convinced and we want La Plata to assume the commitment related to the energy transition and the possible search for carbon neutrality. Both in the country and in the region, we believe that there are conditions to move forward.”
The local actors involved in this process could dream of a more resilient and sustainable La Plata in 2050, with diversification of the energy matrix and participatory strategic planning.