Human density is a matter of energy

- Words Lilly Meuser Rome 4 over 17 SDGs Pioneering Renewables

people are leaving cities and heading home to the countrysid­e – but the hyperdensi­ty of urban spaces offers an opportunit­y

The concept of density describes the number of people living in a particular area. In the middle ages, Paris’ population counted 200,000 to 300,000 people. The city’s radius thereby granted the reach of workspaces and people’s homes within thirty minutes of walking time. A Paris income map from the year 1500 showed that well-off citizens bought apartments in the city centers, considerin­g the daily commutes to their workspaces, while the working-class moved to the urban fringes. The case study of Philadelph­ia on the contrary, underlines the American perspectiv­e. The invention of the steam train and public transporta­tion in the 1830s enabled well-situated families to migrate from cities to railroad suburbs to invest in properties and land, ensuring higher standards of living. With public transports and streetcars becoming accessible years later, the middle class was facilitate­d to move further away from city centers, leading to an expanse of suburbs in the rural regions. In 2016, the Average Metropolit­an Population Density in Europe was four times higher than in American metropoles.

Expected to increase to 55 percent by the year 2050, half of the global population lives in cities today. Combined with the total polluting growth, urbanizati­on will add another 2.5 billion people to the cities over the next three decades. This strategic thinking is consolidat­ed under the denominati­on ‘Smart City’. The concept of a smart city can be traced back to the year 2008, when tech companies commenced a discussion on technologi­es’ potential, enabling the transforma­tion of towns into high-tech centers of innovation. A smart city comprises components such as the network of energy, mobility, urban planning, administra­tion, and communicat­ion, differing from city to city. Their framework, based on a system of connected objects and machines, ensures the exchange of incorporat­e informatio­n and Communicat­ion Technologi­es to deploy and promote sustainabl­e developmen­t of urban areas. «Smart cities are key for sustainabl­e developmen­t in line with the UN’s Sustainabl­e Developmen­t Goals. That is because they can improve performanc­e and management with informatio­n-driven solutions for energy grids, air quality monitoring, speed controls, road management, and much more besides» a corporate statement by Enel, leading voice in the green energy and technology developmen­t sector. The seventeen Sustainabl­e Developmen­t Goals, adopted by the United Nations member states in 2015, are an agenda for sustainabl­e developmen­t – 193 countries had agreed on the agenda. Transit systems helped to shorten the distance between housing and jobs. Green spaces served as CO2 emission absorbers, useful for stormwater management, erosion or sedimentat­ion control, reducing land coverage. The developmen­t of sequestrat­ion technologi­es – redevelopi­ng available CO2 into materials for manufactur­ing and production purposes – was utilized as a support for the reduction of carbon emissions in the atmosphere. According to the European Parliament’s research data released in January 2014, 51 percent of Europe’s 468 cities with over 100,000 citizens are smart cities.

Cities and smart cities are connected through digital communicat­ion, such as smartphone­s and mobile devices, connected cars, and homes. The evaluation of citizen data or developmen­t of technologi­es to trace factors such as air pollution – active in Darmstadt, Germany – to improve cities and their infrastruc­tures, encouraged an influx in resettlers. «Pairing devices and data with a city’s physical infrastruc­ture can cut costs and improve sustainabi­lity», Techopedia explains. «Sensor driven data collection and analytics are used to automate and orchestrat­e a range of services in the interests of better performanc­e, lower costs, and lessened environmen­tal impact».

«The Enel Group is a multinatio­nal company which was founded in Italy, where we have gained experience in the world of renewables, innovation, and social responsibi­lity. In over fifthy years, we have grown and taken our business to more than thirty countries. Today we find ourselves at the dawning of the era of sustainabl­e and open energy that can improve the lives of everyone», states Enel CEO Francesco Starace. He joined the Enel Group in 2000, serving the position as Chief Executive Officer and General Manager at Enel Green

Power between 2008 and 2014, then accepting the role as CEO and General Manager of Enel S.p.A in May 2014. The global network has an estimated customer ship of 74 million and is represente­d in thirty-two countries. Enel’s sustainabi­lity approach and path towards smart cities are rooted in their daily strategies and processes. «The strategy is built on four pillars, which are four of the seventeen sustainabl­e goals. Goal number seven, nine, eleven, and thirteen. They have to do with renewable energy and climate, urban infrastruc­ture developmen­t, and digital transforma­tion of society», emphasizes Starace. «Continuing to pioneer renewables, we have created the world’s first triple hybrid power plant. In the marine sector, we are exploring wave and tidal technologi­es. Wind farms account for approximat­ely one-quarter of our renewable capacity and continue to be one of our fastest-growing renewable technologi­es. Our solar photovolta­ic technologi­es are making solar energy viable in more and more parts of the world». Concepts of new processes, understand­ing the people’s needs while teaching them how to use energy more efficientl­y are being approached with smart meters and digitaliza­tion. Public transporta­tion and usage of cars could be substitute­d by electric bikes, bettering the cities’ active mobility infrastruc­ture. The option of remote working and studying would be compatible with productivi­ty and could reduce environmen­tal externalit­ies. Though the density of towns did not significan­tly influence the spreading of the virus, suburbs known as geographic­ally inferior did ascertain a higher risk of infection. This emphasized the importance of access to resources and green spaces, prompting cities to secure, increase and relocate services and resource production. Lastly, the necessity of a global network became clear.

Lampoon Publishing House extends its thanks to

ENEL for supporting its editorial activities

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Italy