More than three quarters of Germans live in cities. The metropolitan areas are responsible for around 80 percent of global energy consumption and over 70 percent of CO₂ emissions. Cities therefore have a prominent role to play in combating climate change and achieving the 1.5 degree target.
How do cities become more sustainable? What does climate-friendly housing look like? Urbanization challenges all areas of urban development - from sustainable and energy-efficient construction to electrified mobility to solar power generation on roofs. The coupling of sectors and the intelligent networking of energy producers and consumers increase efficiency.
Autonomy with Photovoltaics
According to studies, metropolises could theoretically cover their entire electricity needs with solar energy. Berlin would have to equip around eight percent of the city area with solar systems and Düsseldorf around six percent. The basis for the calculation here is the per capita consumption of the respective city in relation to the number of inhabitants. At the moment the average share is less than half.
“In order to become as self-sufficient as possible, cities should invest heavily in photovoltaic expansion,” says Marc Tremel, Team Leader Project Sales B2B, Energy Business at Qcells. “Urban areas could, for example, be equipped with solar systems: properties, parking garages, schools and new building projects.” New construction offers special opportunities here. “It would be economically advantageous to include solar energy directly in new buildings, for example to optimize the roof alignment to the position of the sun and avoid shading,” says Marc Tremel. A holistic photovoltaic concept also includes the integration of e-charging points in or on the building and the installation of solar storage systems. This makes photovoltaics a supporter of “green buildings” in which particular emphasis is placed on sustainability.
A net positive
Green building certificates are becoming increasingly important as they provide ESG evidence for environmental protection (Environmental), social justice (Social) and good corporate management (Governance), thereby increasing the value of the building. In order to receive a LEED, DGNB or BREEAM certificate, certain building planning criteria must be met. These are evaluated according to a points system. The higher the score, the higher the level of the certificate. “With our clean solar solutions, we increase the score of green buildings in the areas of energy and environmental impact. We advise investors, municipalities, architects and property developers holistically and individually,” explains Oliver Beckel, Director Corporate Strategy & Communications at Qcells, explaining the company’s sustainability philosophy.
Everyone becomes a producer
Cities and communities can achieve further increases in efficiency through intelligent networking. Smartly controlled power grids, so-called virtual power plants, distribute energy more efficiently. They flexibly control electricity supply and demand and thus coordinate energy requirements and production. Virtually every producer can participate in the market via the virtual power plant. Anyone who owns a photovoltaic system no longer only produces electricity for their own needs, but for the community. This is particularly advantageous in cities because producers and consumers live in close proximity to one another. This means that only small transmission losses occur. “Every city is different. But with scalable systems we can provide tailored answers for every conceivable urban scenario,” says Philipp Efthymiou, Team Energy Retail at Qcells. Virtual power plants are no longer a dream of the future, but can already be implemented today.
Understanding power supply as an organism
Qcells therefore sees the city's energy future in holistic solutions. “A city is an organic structure. This is also how we see the urban supply of solar energy organically. We develop and produce the modules ourselves, plan and install the solar systems, and integrate storage solutions and charging points. We can also take over the marketing of the electricity upon request. And if the energy we generate ourselves is not enough, we supply our customers with pure green electricity. Everything meshes together,” says Philipp Efthymiou. Cities can now embark on the path to electricity self-sufficiency and actively contribute to climate protection. Decentralized, digitized and networked solar systems and holistic solutions are an important key to this.
Hanwha Q CELLS GmbH
Oliver Beckel, Claudia Schmidt
Tel: +49 (0)3494 6699 10121