Innovation partnership for smart cities and communities launched in Europe


Günther Oettinger,
EC Energy
Brussels, Belgium — (METERING.COM) — July 16, 2012 – The European Commission has launched the Smart Cities and Communities European Innovation Partnership (SCC) with the aim to boost the development of smart technologies in cities.

This will be achieved by pooling research resources from energy, transport and ICT and concentrating them on a small number of commercial scale demonstration projects, which will be implemented in partnership with cities. For 2013, €365 million in EU funds have been earmarked for the demonstration of these types of urban technology solutions.

Currently many obstacles limit the potential of innovative smart technologies, for example high technological risk, difficulties over uncertain returns on investment or regulatory difficulties. In tough economic times, businesses and cities are also reluctant to scale up and rapidly deploy innovative technologies despite potential cost savings and longer term emissions reductions.
The transport, energy and ICT services and value chains are also now converging.

“Innovation drives Europe’s competitiveness and is the best means of addressing energy efficiency,” said Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger. “Thanks to this partnership, high efficiency heating and cooling systems, smart metering, real time energy management or zero-energy buildings neighborhoods solutions will spread among more and more European cities.”

The SCC is intended to scale up the Smart Cities and Communities Initiative, which was launched last year, with €81 million earmarked for 2012, covering the energy and transport sectors.

The first phase is the orientation of the 2013 Work Program to reflect the integrated nature of the urban energy, transport and ICT topics. The cross-cutting themes are:

  • Smart buildings and neighborhoods
  • Smart supply and demand systems and services for better informed citizens
  • Sustainable urban mobility
  • Smart and sustainable digital infrastructures
  • Strategic planning for identification, integration and optimization of flows (energy, emissions, people, goods, services).

These projects will need to be complemented by demand side measures such as developing new business models, fostering procurements of innovative solutions, setting new standards or improving regulatory frameworks.

In order to support the implementation of the SCC, a high level group consisting of CEOs from R&D-intensive industries, city mayors, regulatory authorities and public financing institutions will be set up to.

How best to design and adapt cities into smart intelligent and sustainable environments is one of the greatest challenges facing the EU, according to a statement. Almost three quarters of Europeans live in cities, consuming 70 percent of the region’s energy. Congestion costs Europe about 1 percent of its GDP annually, most in urban areas. Smart urban technologies are expected to make a major contribution to tackling many urban challenges.