District Energy in Cities: Unlocking Renewables and Energy Efficiency

Cities nowadays account for more than 70% of global energy demand, so their energy policy choices are central to the desired transition to sustainable energy. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) conducted a survey on low-carbon cities worldwide to identify the key factors underlying their success in scaling up energy efficiency and renewable energy. In most cases, the implementation of district energy systems proved to be a best-practice approach for providing sustainable heating and cooling. Tackling the energy challenges we now face requires the smart use of synergies, energy storage, new approaches to governance and flexibility in demand.

The UNEP publication, "District Energy in Cities: Unlocking the Potential of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy", is one of the first reports to provide concrete policy, finance and technology guidance on addressing the heating and cooling sectors in cities. The recommendations for improving energy efficiency and integrating renewables provided in the publication were developed in collaboration with 45 cities, all of which use modern district heating.

This report is the first of a series of guidance documents and tools that will be developed in support of the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) Energy Efficiency Accelerator Platform. The Platform was designed to scale-up efficiency gains and investments at the local and national levels through technical assistance, support and public-private sector collaboration, as well as help contribute to the overall SE4All energy efficiency goal. Accelerators in key energy subsectors like buildings, industry or lighting will support governments engage with a variety of stakeholders, so that energy efficiency policies and goals can benefit from specific knowledge of technologies, markets, financial instruments and implementation approaches. Key deliverables of the Accelerator Platform will be Integrated Policy and Investment Roadmaps to guide project implementation supported by a global network of experts, institutions and businesses.

The full publication can be found here.

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