Sustenergy - Sustainable Energy


food You know that energy you get from drinking a fresh cup of coffee? That energy is unsustainable.  Energy from a good night’s sleep, a healthy diet, and exercise stays with you throughout the day and throughout your life. A number of our awards cities this round are seeking solutions related to energy, and each of them is focused on finding more sustainable ways of producing it.

Birmingham, in the UK, wants a solution to transform its many tonnes of food waste into an energy source for businesses and residents. The city of Caceres, in Spain, identified municipal sports facilities as its potential source of sustainable energy. Kinetic energy could be captured to power the facility and perhaps streetlights or other municipal infrastructure.

Japan for Sustainability, a Japanese non-profit we’ve mentioned on this blog before, has been reporting several initiatives in their country related to sustainable energy that are worthwhile to report.

  • Solar-powered bus shelters: these photo-voltaic-equipped bus shelters protect waiting passengers from sun and rain, collect energy to light the bus stop at night, and have the ability to utilize any excess energy for powering nearby facilities, supplementing power during shortages like emergencies, or selling excess to power companies.  Sustainable solution indeed!
  • Citizen-funded solar generation project: property owners in Higashiomi, Japan can install subsidized solar panels on their roof, feed the power into a citywide network, and, as investors, receive dividends from the proceeds in the form of coupons to local establishments. It a sustainable solution for the economy and the environment.
  • Dynamic electricity pricing: Kitakyushu will pilot dynamic pricing of electricity based on season and time of day.  Ten percent of energy will come from wind and solar, while the remaining comes from a natural gas cogeneration plant.

What if some of the ideas coming from Japanese projects could be combined with Birmingham and Caceres’ request for proposals? For instance, what if households and businesses could “invest in” the local power grid by collecting and donating food waste? They could be incentivized in a way similar to the citizen-funded solar project in Japan. Or, what if the municipal sports facilities excess energy could be used to power not bus shelters, but electric buses or electric bicycles – sustainable forms of transport? Keep an eye on the submissions; this will be an interesting set for sure.

-          Terra Curtis

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