More than half of the world's population lives in cities. In 1950, just 30% of the world's population lived in urban areas. That number is set to swell to a massive 68% by 2050.
With more people in cities and the need to tackle climate change, there's an ever greater need for sustainability. Many cities, such as London, Hamburg, and Stockholm are already leading the way.
In Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö in southern Sweden, E.ON worked with city authorities and local water and waste companies to develop the smart city of the future. In 2011 we began supporting Hyllie with its ambitious goal to be powered completely by sustainable energy by the year 2020. The lessons we learned from this project could then be put into action in other areas of Sweden and elsewhere.
Smart energy sources
The renewable energy we use in Hyllie is based on local generation from wind, solar, biomass and waste sources. By using these different sources of energy, we are able to tailor the supply to residents' distinct needs.
We also developed novel solutions like a 'smart grid' that reacts to the weather and its impact on renewable energy generation; for example when it's sunny or windy the grid puts any surplus energy produced into battery storage so it can be used later when needed. This means there's less energy left 'wasted' and a more consistent energy supply when demand is higher.
The project has had a profound effect on Hyllie. Houses and other buildings powered by smart energy solutions have helped to transform a neighbourhood that was once on the fringes into a prime real estate destination, especially for young families. Their energy systems are now more efficient and their bills are lower. Residents feel a sense of pride that their city is more proactive and climate friendly and that the different organisations involved worked well together.
Bringing winning solutions home
In the UK, E.ON's renewable energy solutions have helped families in similar ways. We are leaders in building and developing low carbon district heating schemes – where a single energy centre generates heat and power and is connected to homes or businesses through a network of super-insulated pipes. This type of heating eliminates the need for a gas boiler in individual properties and provides greater efficiency and carbon savings.
Closer to home, London's Elephant Park redevelopment project is among the most sustainable inner-city urban regeneration projects in the world and the UK's only development which is part of the Clinton Climate Positive Development Programme. E.ON's district heating scheme at Elephant Park will, from 2023, provide a heating supply based on 100% renewable sources, contributing to the development's net zero carbon status.
We are working hard to spread our renewable energy solutions even further. For example, over the past four years we have invested more than £75 million, with another £50 million committed, to expand our district heating operation which already includes communities from Exeter to London and from Southampton to Newcastle.
With projects like these, along with many others around the UK and Europe, we are leading the way to a greener and brighter future.