As energy prices soar, a growing number of people find themselves in a desperate struggle to keep up with their energy bills. Currently, approximately 52 million people have to delay paying their energy bills. Municipalities have emerged as crucial points of contact for concerned citizens. Urgent action is required to address this energy crisis while considering the pressing issue of emissions.
At the Urban Future conference held in Stuttgart, Germany, a dynamic and interactive session took place, aiming to tackle the energy crisis head-on without neglecting the importance of reducing emissions. The Urban Future conference annually attracts an impressive gathering of "city changers" who are committed to making cities more sustainable. This year, over 2,000 urban development experts, politicians, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders convened to exchange ideas and explore innovative solutions.
The conference featured a diverse lineup of speakers, each offering unique insights into how to support energy-poor citizens and promote the adoption of renewable energy in cities across Europe and beyond. Eleni Kanellou, Research Associate at the National Technical University of Athens and Coordinator of the POWERPOOR project, delivered a comprehensive overview of the current state of energy poverty in Europe. She shed light on the number of individuals affected and the relevant regulatory framework at the EU level. Moreover, Kanellou introduced the POWERPOOR project's array of tools and strategies designed to mitigate this crisis.
Singapore's distinct energy landscape brought an insightful change of perspective when Naomi C. Hanakata, Assistant Professor for Urban Planning at the National University of Singapore, took the stage. Hanakata emphasized the importance of mapping the city-state's renewable energy potential. Through this process, a comprehensive and forward-thinking energy scenario can be developed, capitalizing on a dynamic technology and innovation sector to establish energy security, affordability, and sustainability. The example of Singapore serves as a testament to the necessity of large-scale, holistic spatial energy planning strategies, which optimize output and efficiency.
Vasilios Roussaki, Deputy Mayor of Halki in Greece, then delved into the energy community model adopted by the Municipality of Halki. He shed light on how this innovative approach contributes to lower energy costs for community members. By fostering a sense of unity and collaboration, the municipality has successfully implemented measures to combat energy poverty.
Cynthia Zurita, a Consultant at S317 Consulting, gave an interesting account of the energy situation in Portugal and of the financial scheme underlying the Porto Energy ElevatoR (PEER) project. This ambitious initiative aims to alleviate energy poverty by improving the energy efficiency of social housing and promoting the use of renewable energy. Additionally, innovative financial schemes are integrated to ensure the project's success.
Finally, Melinda Vedrődi, Project Manager at Energiaklub, and Erik Suhajda, a dedicated student from Eötvös University, shared their experiences addressing energy poverty in Hungary. They recounted their endeavors to visit households in need and provide assistance through short-term measures, enabling affected individuals to improve their circumstances.
As energy prices continue to surge, the dire situation faced by millions of Europeans demands immediate attention. The session hosted by POWERPOOR at the Urban Future conference served as a platform for inspiring ideas and innovative approaches, demonstrating that solutions are within reach. By leveraging renewable energy sources, implementing comprehensive energy plans, fostering community collaboration, and employing creative financial mechanisms, we can strive toward a future where energy poverty becomes a thing of the past. It is crucial for governments, municipalities, and concerned citizens to join forces and take action to ensure a brighter and more sustainable future for all.