SPARCS Energy Solutions Day: Accelerating the Path to Climate Neutrality
SPARCS Leipzig Maia Espoo Reykjavik Kladno
19 june 2024 | Location: Espoo, Leipzig, Reykjavik, Kladno, Maia
Energy climate neutrality

On June 5, 2024, the BVV Trade Fairs Brno hosted the SPARCS Energy Solutions Day as part of URBIS: The Smart Cities Meetup. This half-day event brought together stakeholders from SPARCs Lighthouse and Fellow Cities to discuss and share innovative solutions for achieving climate neutrality and sustainable urban development.

The day began with an introduction by Mari Hukkalainen of VTT Finland, who provided a crash course on the SPARCS project, setting the stage for the day’s discussions on climate-neutral energy solutions and smart city initiatives. Within SPARCS, over 44 innovations have been tested  from neighbourhoods, to buildings, to business models – and key lessons and recommendations will be put together in a policy recommendation paper to be released in the autumn. This paper will address the main barriers to energy transition at European and national level.

Innovative approaches

Elina Wanne from the City of Espoo discussed Espoo’s strategies for achieving climate neutrality by 2030, emphasising the integration of e-mobility and sustainable transport within the city’s urban network. Espoo’s innovative approach includes the Lippulaiva blocks in Espoonlahti, where thermal energy and electricity systems are optimised for both heating and cooling, demonstrating the effectiveness of versatile energy solutions.

Nadja Riedel from the City of Leipzig’s Digital Unit highlighted Leipzig’s efforts to create sustainable neighbourhoods that serve as blueprints for a climate-neutral city. Over the past five years, Leipzig has focused on the planning, implementation, and replication of Positive Energy Districts (PEDs), building on their experience from the Triangulum project and their current involvement in the EU Mission for 100 Climate Neutral and Smart Cities.

Panel discussions provided a platform for deeper insights. The first panel featured representatives from the Lighthouse Cities of Espoo and Leipzig, who discussed their respective projects and the challenges they face. The second panel, involving all the guests, explored how innovations can be turned into everyday business practices, with participants from all represented cities contributing to the conversation.

Hrafn Leó Guðjónsson from Reykjavik Energy presented Iceland’s unique approach to integrating mobility into the energy system, leveraging the country’s abundant natural resources. David Škorňa from Kladno discussed the city’s realistic timeline for decarbonisation, emphasising the importance of clear communication with local partners and politicians.

Sharing lessons learned

The workshop also featured insights from Maia, presented by Gretel Schaj of BABLE Smart Cities and Fernando Gomes from the City of Maia. They shared lessons on making an impact through market consultation and innovation procurement, highlighting the importance of partnerships, and adapting ideas to local realities.

Throughout the seminar, the importance of creating and sustaining ecosystems of collaboration was a recurring theme. Participants agreed that realistic, easily replicable solutions are crucial for the widespread adoption of climate-neutral practices. The SPARCS Energy Solutions Day showcased not only the innovative solutions being tested and implemented across Europe but also the collaborative spirit driving the transition to sustainable, climate-neutral cities.