Characteristics of Sustainable Energy Planning

Sotos (2012) provides a corporate, project and product-level approach to quantify and control scope 2 indirect emissions, highlighting the fact that scope 2 emissions are the largest contributor to GHG emission into the atmosphere. Its aim is to inform consumers of electricity to decrease their demand and shift the focus of energy supply to alternative low-carbon resources. In UNON (2004), the stated mission is to endorse socially and environmentally sustainable urban development to assist governments to cultivate sustainable energy and climate action plans as well as endorse implementation programs. The published work provides a large range of case studies from developed and developing urban centers, which aim to cover the areas of local government responsibilities. Important considerations in UNON (2004), which tie in with this chapter, address certain key characteristics of urban developments backed by local governments to achieve sustainable energy planning. These characteristics include:

  • • Treating all energy systems and supplies as an entirety. This is helpful since it relieves the complexity of urban planning for energy transport and distribution to private, commercial and industrial users. The holistic view of energy requirements can aid and benefit planners to optimize the generation and distribution of energy and determine solutions for alternative forms of energy.
  • • Projects and development plans should be measured against carbon mitigation through efficient energy generation and distribution, compared to planning solely for providing electricity and/or heat from traditional power plants.
  • • Focus should be placed on reducing the demand for energy services as opposed to increasing the capacity of traditional power plants or considering additional alternative energy sources. Informing and empowering urban (and rural) inhabitants with knowledge and understanding of their average expenditure and persuading them to reduce demand can potentially signify lower average consumption and lower GHG emissions. This would shift the focus from supplier-specific sources to alternative energy sources that will allow focus on energy conservation, efficiency and overall lower demand.
  • • Cognizance should be taken of the environmental costs and repercussions of any new developments, leading to higher demand and increases in electricity supply.
  • • Planning for change and anticipating change through new technologies, technology improvements and increased efficiency of current alternative energy solutions are essential. The economic feasibility of non-traditional energy supplies is still one of the main factors hindering growth in this sector; consideration of economic viability towards technology maturity should remain a key characteristic of sustainable energy supply.

Furthermore, UNON (2004) establishes a vision listing the key fundamentals of a sustainable system, particularly catering for the energy sector—electricity and heat generation—that is responsible for the bulk of carbon emissions in urban milieus. These fundamentals are crucial during urban planning of improvements and infrastructure enhancements, described as consistent, renewable, diverse, inclusive and interdependent. These principles are represented in Fig. 1.

In Fig. 1, the five key principles to consider during urban planning in the energy sector include consistency of short-term and long-term goals, proven to be viable and attainable over both time periods. Importantly, renewable resources are a major driver towards low-carbon emissions and should be included as a viable alternative in any urban planning; even if not deemed feasible, considering it is crucial. Diversity and adaptability of energy supplies allow for interchangeability during peak and off-peak demand periods, as well as considering future upgrades. Respecting these principles can improve the attainability of inclusive sub-systems operating to complement each other and operate interdependently.

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