Sustainable Energy Now
Salerno is the second largest city located on the coast of Campania. It is an important cultural center and famous tourism city in Italy with a long history and abundant tourism resources.
Salerno enjoys great geographical positioning and is a transport hub as its railway station is located on the mainline of the Italian railway network. The railway leads directly to major Italian cities and European high-speed rail networks through the Milan-Salerno corridor. Salerno port is Italy's main port and is also one of the most active ports along the Tyrrhenian Sea coast.
Salerno has made remarkable achievements in contemporary architecture, travel, music and art, however in recent years, the city has faced some challenges.
First of all, environmental problems have arisen. With Salerno and Naples being located only 48 kilometers apart, atmospheric pollution and a garbage crisis in Naples has brought about threats and challenges to the ecological environment of Salerno.
Second, Italy is in seriously short supply of energy sources with little domestic coal reserves and production. Its oil and gas resources are seriously insufficient and it mainly relies upon imports. According to European Union (EU) statistics, Italy's energy dependence on foreign-trade far exceeds the rest of the EU's average levels.
Salerno, with its energy situation similar to that of Italy, depends on the import of fossil fuels. Fluctuations in fossil fuel prices in international markets have exerted a huge impact on the economy and society of Salerno.
Third, although Italy is one of the first several countries in the world to establish nuclear power plants, most Italians are averse to using nuclear power. The Italians have forced the government to fully give up on nuclear power via two public votes.
Although Salerno is faced with challenges such as pollution and energy shortages, it has abundant natural energy resources in terms of solar energy, wind energy and hydro energy. The city has also won huge support from the renewable energy policy issued by the local government. So it is a must for Salerno to develop renewable energy.
Salerno develops "Sustainable Energy Now" initiative
The Italian government attaches great importance to the development of renewable energy and has introduced support policies and measures in order to promote the concept of sustainable development and improve people's living standards. And so, Salerno developed and implemented the "Sustainable Energy Now" initiative.
The initiative aims to reach and to exceed the goals set by the EU in terms of the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, energy saving and renewable energy production, to improve on 20 percent more of these goals compared to that of 2005.
The initiative consists of two main parts: i) make an analysis on current energy and emissions scenarios and propose with options or solutions to reduce consumption and pollutants; ii) implement such proposed activities. The strong and active collaboration between universities and research entities allows researchers in Salerno to help policymakers better define the things related to energy initiatives such as laws, incentives and rules.
The initiative can be considered both evolutionary and revolutionary. The major activities aimed at energy saving and emissions reduction can be summarized as follows:
•Establish a project team. In order to promote "Sustainable Energy Now", Salerno has established an expert team consisting of various institutions including Salerno municipal energy office, many researchers and colleges from the University of Salerno, University of Naples' "Federico II" and private enterprises. There are a large number of stakeholders who participate in the sustainable energy project.
•Develop an urban energy plan. The project team has jointly developed an urban energy plan. Its main contents can be summarized as:
a) Street lighting and electrical equipment: use high-efficiency and energy-saving lamps, give material rewards to the homes using home appliances which save energy and are environment friendly.
b) Building energy conservation: by improving designs, reducing energy loss caused by poor doors and windows as well as heat insulation devices.
c) Improve indoor space heating, ventilation and air conditioning with design improvements in order to reduce energy consumption.
d) Save water: make better use of ditches to recycle and make good use of rainwater.
e) Vigorously develop solar energy, biomass energy, hydro-energy, wind energy and other renewable energy sources.
f) Sustainable mobility: use energy-saving intelligent traffic lights; give material rewards for using bicycles, reduce use of private cars and encourage to choose public transportation, such as carpooling.
g) Improve waste recycling rates.
h) Help owners to build photovoltaic panels on their roofs; help the owners to purchase and install windows and house framework which is more energy-saving and environment friendly.
•Cooperate with universities to conduct theoretical research and innovation experiments. University of Salerno, as an important participant in the project, has provided important intellectual support for the project. University of Salerno has conducted the following theoretical research and innovation experiments:
a) Use the toolbox developed by University of Salerno (whose patent is applied), refit traditional cars into mixed solar vehicles. The fleet in Salerno City will use such tools to enact the refits.
b) Develop and test solar thermal power plants with seasonal storage functions and provide central heating for schools.
c) In light of existing constraints, use a method based on mathematical programming to evaluate the priorities of proposed actions.
However, the project is faced with several major barriers in its implementation.
The first, the economy in the area is sluggish, which puts pressure on the project's implementation. In recent years, Campania's economy has been very depressed. Its youth unemployment rate ranks high in Italy and local governments face heavy debts, all of which has brought about great pressure on the implementation of this project.
The second, the pollution in the surrounding environment is serious which increases the difficulty of project implementation. Salerno is only 48 kilometers away from Naples – the city with the most serious air pollution in Italy. Garbage crises repeatedly occur in the city and sewage discharge problems are also very serious. These issues are serious threats to Salerno's environment, increasing the difficulty of the implementation of the project.
The third, Salerno is faced with many challenges. In recent years, the increase of international fossil fuel prices has affected the economic and social effects on Salerno. Natural disasters such as droughts, floods, storms caused by the greenhouse effect have also brought serious threats to Salerno, which bring a certain resistance to the implementation of the project.
The "Sustainable Energy Now" initiative started in 2009. By the time Salerno applied for the Guangzhou Award in 2012, it has put a design consisting of 20 projects. Many projects have achieved good economic and social benefits, which have set good examples to other cities in the following aspects.
•Prioritize energy saving and scientific use of energy and promote energy conservation and emission reduction in a comprehensive way.
In order to reduce Salerno's energy dependency on foreign-trade, Salerno has prioritized energy saving and scientific use of energy in the implementation of "Sustainable Energy Now" project. To achieve continuous growth in production and gradually reduce pollution, it is imperative to change the extensive mode of industrial growth, and stick to energy saving and scientific use of energy. Improvements in energy utilization efficiency and reduction of energy consumption are also important. Achieving greater economic growth with less energy input to a large extent depends on the mining of energy-saving potential.
•Enhance people's awareness of resources preservation and call on the society to save energy.
During the implementation of the "Sustainable Energy Now" initiative, Salerno has attached great importance to promoting the concept of environmental protection to its citizens. In light of energy shortages, it is necessary to strengthen all citizens’ awareness of concern for limited resources while vigorously call on all citizens to save energy.
All variety of media should be used to publicize the importance of energy saving, to popularize knowledge of energy conservation, mobilize participation in circles of the society, advocate a culture of energy conservation, establish a long-term mechanism for energy saving throughout the entire society, and make efforts to form healthy, civilized and energy-saving patterns. It is imperative to incorporate energy saving into basic education, vocational education, higher education and technical training systems, making every enterprise, every family and every citizen consciously save oil and electricity from now on. "Energy conservation and environmental protection" must become the common value and self-conscious action of all citizens.
•The government should attach great importance to the development of "Sustainable Energy Now" initiative, and increase financial support.
Government's great support is the key to smooth implementation of the sustainable energy project of Salerno. No matter for both developed countries or developing countries, the development of sustainable energy projects are inseparable from the support of government. During planning for sustainable development, cities should take into full account of energy efficient building patterns, industrial energy conservation, renewable energy, electric power, transportation, environmental management, sustainable city, low carbon development and other considerations.
Local government can set up a special fund for the "Sustainable Energy Now" project and can also support the development of sustainable energy projects through tax preferences, government purchase, financial subsidies, low-interest loans, accelerated depreciation, helping to expand the market by all possible means. In addition to displaying their own initiatives, governments should also encourage commercial banks and other financial institutions to become involved in the construction of sustainable energy projects and guide both private and international capital toward involvement in the project, thereby promoting the commercial development of the urban sustainable energy project.
•Optimize energy structures and develop renewable energy.
Under the premise of ensuring the safety of the energy supply, Salerno is vigorously developing and utilizing wind energy, hydro energy, geothermal energy and other renewable energy sources, especially solar energy.
Cities in various regions can make full use of their local unique advantages and conditions. They need to integrate the successful development experience of energy-saving technologies and establish complete energy-industry systems which integrate R&D, design, production, trade, use, and conform to the actual situation of their local regions.
•Build innovation systems combining enterprises (as the main body), government (as the leader), research institutes, financial support, and intermediary services.
In order to promote the "Sustainable Energy Now" initiative, Salerno has established a highly efficient professional team and integrated the forces of government, universities, research institutions, enterprises and social organizations, and integrated social resources while listening to the opinions and suggestions of various stakeholders, finally established a joint system of "enterprises (as the main body), government (as the leader), research institutes, financial support, and intermediary services".
Cities should make full use of local talents, technologies, capital and other advantages when actively building the joint system. Deepening the industry-university-research cooperation changes the situation of relatively low level industry-university-research cooperation. Focus can be laid on vigorously developing the "Sustainable Energy Now" initiative, cultivating a new energy industry and developing a low carbon economy in order to achieve economic and socially sustainable development.
The City Energy Plan, developed in last few years with the participation of many experts from different universities, was awarded in 2010 for being the most advanced in Italy as for urban solutions. Salerno is the first city in Italy (for its range of population) for the cycle of rubbish and recycling (about 70 percent) and owns the third largest PV plant (24MW) in Italy (at the time of construction).
Salerno has set a good example in energy saving and environmental protection.