Moving forward in the energy transition

There is less of a window of opportunity for action than previously thought. In fact, time is running out. This winter has combined all the makings of a perfect storm: accelerating climate change, with increasingly frequent and severe weather disruptions, and skyrocketing energy prices as a result of the effects of the war in Ukraine and the instability of oil and gas supplies. This is a critical situation that demands an accelerated energy transition towards a model based on renewables that ensures both the replacement of fossil fuels and greater sovereignty in electricity production.

Cities account for 70% of the world’s energy consumption and are also responsible for 80% of CO2 emissions. They are therefore key players in a global challenge on which their own future depends. With the available technologies, big cities will never produce as much energy as they need, but they can play a decisive role in mitigating the problem. They can produce as much clean electricity as their rooftops and new infrastructure allow, and, above all, they can change mobility, reduce demand and improve energy efficiency.

New regulations, which encourage the installation of solar panels and will allow self-consumption installations to be shared up to a radius of two kilometres, may soon change the terms of the equation. The so-called rooftop revolution could be a decisive step towards a shared and distributed energy model. The growing presence of cooperatives and association-based companies, which only work with renewable energies, and the emergence of new public electricity suppliers are also part of this change of model.

The population is rapidly becoming more aware of environmental threats, and increasingly more people are questioning the paradigm of growth at any cost. But the implementation of renewable energies still comes up against resistance from local communities. In Catalonia, we are paying the consequences of a lost decade and now it is time to step up the pace to make up for what hasn’t been done and to prepare for new scenarios. Everyone will have to make sacrifices. The new Catalan regulations on renewables, which encourage project participation and local ownership, should allow clean energy to expand, prioritising projects designed for the common good ahead of those that are merely extractivist.

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