Turning ambitious decarbonization goals into reality requires an integrated approach

Many cities around the world have recognized their importance in fighting climate change.

Turning ambitious decarbonization goals into reality requires an integrated approach

Many cities around the world have recognized their importance in fighting climate change. For example, before the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland last November, leaders from many of the 1,000-plus cities that have joined the United Nations' Race to Zero initiative announced pledges to drastically reduce carbon emissions.

These public commitments are important for a city because they show what the city wants to achieve. Having these commitments also sets a goal for the city, which makes it easier to hold the city accountable.

It is true that setting aggressive targets for reducing carbon emissions is the easy part for city leaders. Far more challenging is putting in place the policies, strategies, budgets and responsibilities needed to make steady progress towards deep decarbonization. Even more daunting for city leaders is creating a cost-effective decarbonization pathway, promoting resilience and maximizing the wide range of achievable benefits as communities navigate the transition away from fossil fuels.

Why the energy transition is so complex

It is a difficult task to complete that requires a lot of technical knowledge, financial knowledge, and market knowledge. Many cities haven't needed this type of knowledge in the past. An example that highlights the complexity cities face is electrifying their vehicle fleets, including municipal buses. The market for this is expected to surge in the next few years, thanks to significant orders for transit and school buses from cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and many others.

Managing a city bus fleet requires more than just supplying gas and doing maintenance at a bus depot. Electrification also means adding significant load on-site, which can be difficult to accommodate. This is why Shell Energy works closely with cities to develop solutions that help them achieve their decarbonization goals. You need to know a lot about energy in order to build the new electrical infrastructure. You need to understand how the energy market works and what the rules are in each region. That way, you can participate in ancillary service markets and get the most out of investments in electric buses.

There are many different ways to reduce the amount of pollution caused by cities. Electric transportation is one way, but it's not the only way. Cities need to figure out how to change their power supplies, buildings, and industries so that they don't produce as much pollution. It's going to be a difficult task, but it's important that all of the city's residents benefit from these changes.

It's important to understand a city's unique locations and assets in order to make efficient progress towards deep decarbonization. This includes understanding the mix and match of resources, deployment timing, and markets that need to be accessed.

Why an integrated approach is so important

No single solution exists to help cities reduce their carbon footprints. "An integrated approach" refers to planning and implementing solutions that take into account the entire system, from how much energy people use to where it's generated to how it's delivered. This holistic approach allows cities to utilize a variety of different technologies as they become available.

The city's integrated approach to reducing carbon emissions requires the collaboration of different departments and leaders. It is also helped by having someone with deep knowledge and experience in markets, finance, and new technologies to help formulate, implement, and evolve decarbonization strategies. Shell Energy has a team that works with cities all over the world to develop plans to reduce carbon emissions. The team starts by understanding the city's priorities and current operations. Then they come up with a list of options for moving forward.

The group that is looking at this analyzes what can be done to reduce carbon in three areas: energy, transportation, and the environment. Each of these have a road map that considers the technologies and solutions that are available today and what might be available in the future. This way, cities can make progress quickly and at a low cost towards their goal of reducing carbon emissions.

Shell Energy has developed a "phase-based road map exercise" with cities that helps identify short-term solutions for reducing emissions. For example, transitioning to low-carbon fuels like biodiesel or renewable natural gas at a transit agency. If the cost of electric buses and batteries decreases, cities will be able to take advantage of that and use them. It depends on what your goals are for 2030, 2040, and 2050. You can start implementing solutions today that are effective and affordable.

Turning road maps into reality

Shell Energy can help develop a long-term road map for cities. It also offers specific solutions that begin to reduce emissions from transportation. Yu said, "It can be very complex to operate these assets. That's why we've talked to transit customers who don't want to deal with the operational headaches that come with electrifying their fleets. They need a partner who has the technical capabilities to ensure they're getting the most out of all of their new assets."

The City of San Diego has been a leader in turning their sustainability road maps into reality. For example, in 2015 the city adopted a climate action plan which calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by half by 2035. Recently, they updated this goal to achieve net-zero emissions. As part of this effort, the city approved a project with Shell Energy to build, own and operate eight renewable microgrids at police, fire and public parks facilities. These independent power networks powered by solar energy will provide grid backup or off-grid power to meet local electricity needs. The microgrids will include battery storage and EV charging stations. In total, the microgrids will consist of 930 kilowatt-hours of solar and 2 megawatt-hours of battery storage.

The microgrids in San Diego are powered by solar. This means that they will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1,270 tons over the next 25 years. They are also expected to save the city $4 million. This is important because the microgrids will continue to operate even if the power grid goes down.

To Heather Werner, the deputy director of sustainability and mobility for San Diego, the resiliency, financial and sustainability benefits of deploying the microgrids are extremely important. But another critical aspect is that the microgrids send a message to residents and businesses in San Diego about what is possible in terms of decarbonization. She said that the renewable microgrids are a great example of how the city can show that it is not just setting policies and expectations for others, but is also doing the work and learning the lessons it needs to know.

Back to all articles

Greater sales tomorrow begin with your decision now.