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The Smart and Sustainable Cities Revolution: Europe

CopenHill Urban Mountain from FacebookCopenHill Urban Mountain from Facebook

Disruptive technologies and sustainability models have come to the rescue to tackle metropolitan challenges while transforming urban areas into smart and sustainable cities.

'Europe is historically known for its many revolutions and the continent is taking the lead on yet another one to redefine what is possible to make the world a smarter and greener place.

As urbanization rapidly increases across the globe, cities are experiencing growing societal challenges. But rest assure as disruptive technologies and sustainability models have come to the rescue to tackle these metropolitan challenges, while transforming urban areas into so called ‘smart cities’.

Urban problem areas are many, covering water, waste, energy, carbon emissions, transportation, buildings, health, safety, e-governance, productivity, security, social innovation, education, finance, tourism, retail and more. 

Enabled by digital technologies, data and sustainability thinking, smart cities is a key component in the fourth industrial revolution. The prime goal for developing smart cities is healthier and happier citizens residing in smart, sustainable and liveable urban environments.

Europe is historically known for its many revolutions and the continent is taking the lead on yet another one to redefine what is possible to make the world a smarter and greener place.  In our newsletter we have started a series to follow the trailblazer towns, projects and models in the smart and sustainable cities revolution. Welcome to part one. 

#The world's first electrified road in Sweden
Sweden’s goal is to have zero carbon emission by 2030 and with road traffic accounting for over 30 percent a lot of innovation is happening in this space. It has been estimated that two-thirds of truck transportation in Sweden could be carried out on electrified roads by 2030.

eRoadArlanda is one of several projects in the Swedish Transport Agency’s pre-commercial procurement of innovation for the development of electric road systems. The eRoadArlanda is based on conductive technology using an electric rail installed in the roads to power and recharge vehicles as they are driving. The test track is located on a 10 kilometres section of road between Arlanda Cargo Terminal and the Rosersberg logistics area, of which 2 kilometres is electrified.   Click here for a video on how the technology works.

#Oslo leading the EV adoption market
The Norwegian government has set a goal for all passenger road vehicles to have zero emission by 2025. The incentives given by the Norwegian Government for Electric Vehicles purchases cover: escape heavy import or purchase taxes; 25 per cent VAT exemptions; avoidance of road tax, road tolls; free municipal parking in cities; usage of some bus lanes.

Perhaps as a result almost 60 percent of all new cars sold in Norway in March 2019 were fully electric according to the Norwegian Road Federation, placing the country on track to meet its goal. 

#Waste-to-energy plant with a ski slope
Is it possible to have fun while saving the planet?  The Danish would likely reply yes. 

Just look at the waste-to-energy plant Copenhill / Amager Bakke run by Amager Ressourcecenter. This plant, located in Copenhagen, is owned by five Danish municipalities and when completed it will treat 400,000 tonnes of waste annually, supply 65,000 households with electricity and 160,000 households with central district heating. 

So where does the fun factor come in? Well. The designer company Bjarke Ingels Group decided to add a ski slope on top of the plant. Oh, and on the side of the plant extreme sports enthusiasts can climb the world’s tallest artificial climbing wall. 

The project aligns well with Copenhagen's plan to become the world's first zero-carbon capital city by 2025. Read more here.

#Flying car and driving plane
Sometimes the reality is better than fiction – just take a close look at this Bond-movie-like vehicle.  Dutch company PAL-V has developed a car that flies which is also a plane that drives. The conversion takes less than six minutes. This makes it perfect for border security, policing, and environmental disaster monitoring. Plus it gives us a glimpse into what future transport might look like for even the most ordinary traveller.
Read more here.  

#Orkney about to become a green hydrogen-based economy
In an archipelago off the coast of Scotland lie the Orkney islands. These islands produce way more renewable energy from wind, wave and tidal power, than their inhabitants can use. And the Orcadians have come up with the perfect plan on how to use the surplus energy: become a hydrogen based economy. 

By 2021, Orkney is planning to have the world’s first car-and-passenger ferry fuelled only by hydrogen with the view to have all cars, ferries and boilers running on hydrogen in the near future.

Hydrogen is a fuel which emits no greenhouse gases or pollution. Despite being the most abundant chemical substance in the universe very little of it is freely available as a gas but is instead forming strong bonds with other elements (e.g., oxygen to create water). The process of breaking up the bonds requires a great deal of electricity. 

The solution, based on £1.4 million grant funded research by the Scottish government, is to install electrolysis stations on the islands. Surplus renewable energy is used to run electricity through trailer-sized containers of water and split the molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen can be stored relatively easy, so if you produce it on a Friday you can use it on a Sunday to power your car or heat up a room. 

Read more here.

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