A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the inspiring example set by the Austrian town of Gussing, where Co2 emissions have been cut by 93% in the last decade: a truly remarkable achievement. There are a number of other small towns making similar transitions. Frederikshavn, a city of 23, 000 people in Denmark is set to produce 100% of its electricity, heating and transport fuels from renewable sources by 2015.
Converting to renewables is easier in smaller locations where there is more space to capture the available energy, so for example each small town in mid Wales is surrounded by windy hilltops offering possible wind turbine sites, conifer forests for biomass and streams suitable for hydro: technically a relatively easy challenge. Converting the energy supply of big cities is a much harder challenge.
Seville, a city nearly one and half million inhabitants, is developing Concentrated Solar Power and is set to be producing all its electricity needs from solar within about 3 or 4 years; heating and transport will take longer.
It’s an interesting question, which of the really big mega-cities will be the first to go 100% renewable; which will see the sharpest reduction in Co2 emissions?
Strange as it may seem it could be Los Angeles, currently one with very high Co2 emissions and known for cars and conspicuous consumption. Over the last few years many planning applications were made for concentrating solar power stations in the deserts of Southern California but they all got bogged-down in a bureaucratic log-jam which suddenly is being cleared by the lure of federal loan guarantees conditional on work stating by the end of this year. If all the planned projects get built it could see Los Angeles’ carbon footprint plummet. That really would be something to celebrate!