A key future challenge is to provide decentralized and sustainable energy (Rifkin 2011). Given that challenge, the theme of Post-Oil City asks how this can be accomplished for cities and regions which evolved using fossil fuels. The Horizon 2020 innovation project Positive City ExChange (+CityxChange) responds to this challenge and to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), New Urban Agenda, Paris Agreement, as well as the Sustainable Energy Transition Plan and Green Deal of the European Union. It implements an innovative demonstration-driven approach in the context of smart cities by enabling participatory innovation environments and opening energy markets to decentralize and prosumer-oriented models. It focuses on strong integration within the public sector and co-creation across stakeholders and citizens. Positive City ExChange is one of 17 ongoing or completed European Smart Cities and Communities Lighthouse projects to develop and implement solutions for 1) secure, affordable and clean energy; 2) smart electro-mobility; and, 3) smart tools and services in over 100 cities. The +CityxChange consortium unites the two lighthouse cities Trondheim (Norway) and Limerick (Republic of Ireland) with the five follower cities Alba Iulia (Romania), Písek (Czech Republic), Sestao (Spain), Smolyan (Bulgaria), and Võru (Estonia) to achieve sustainable urban ecosystems that establish 100% renewable energy city-regions by 2050 as part of the European energy transition. The project enables the co-creation of the ‘future we want to live in‘. It develops frameworks and supporting tools to enable a common energy market supported by a connected community and integrated with cities’ urban planning, as well as new policy intervention, market (de)regulation and business models that deliver positive energy communities and integrate e-Mobility as a Service (eMaaS). This article discusses how the +CityxChange project creates an enabling environment for the societal and technical innovations that are required to transition towards positive energy blocks, districts and cities, for, with and by citizens. Eighteen months into the project, the portfolio includes, amongst others, instruments for novel policy intervention, community engagements, market (de-)regulation and business models that enable scaling-up and replicating Positive Energy Blocks and Districts across cities in and outside the European Union. The solutions include data and technology-centred projects as well as urban planning and citizen-focused elements, such as co-creating city visions and accelerating change and disruptive solutions through open innovation playgrounds and participatory governance. The article focuses on the implementation, achieved results, learnings, replicability and impact on the urban planning sector – providing a practical course of action for the Post-Oil City.
Authors: Tjark Gall, Guilia Carbonari, Annemie Wyckams Dirk Ahlers