ENERGY, CITIES, AND GLOBAL SUSTAINABILITY

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Nov 21, 2013 (3 years and 10 months ago)

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1

ENERGY, CITIES
,

AND GLOBAL SUSTAINABILITY


Robert N
.

Schock

Co
-
Chair, Energy PMP

Senior Advisor
,
World Energy Council
, London, UK

Senior Fellow, Center for Global Security Research
, Livermore, CA


In the fair city of this vision, there were airy galleries

from which the loves and graces looked upon
him, gardens in which the fruits of life hung ripening, waters of hope that sparkled in his sight. A
moment, and it was gone. (
Charles
Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, 1859)


Abstract

Arguably, the most acute ener
gy emergency today is
associated with

the rapid growth of cities,
most
notably

in Asia and Africa.
The populations of
all
cities are growing rapidly,
and

two
-
thirds

of
the global population

will live in large cities

by 2050
.
E
conomic, political
,

and social entities are
important elements
of
cities, which are
complex system
s in themselves
, but energ
y
issues tend

to
be afterthought
s
. Energy in itself is a large and complex system and i
s the

glue


that holds
an
entire
city
system together,
and
ener
gy

must be integrated equally into the mix
, in planning as well as
execution
.
Energy’s
ful
l integration
provides an opportunity to substantially contribute to
discussion
s

and
lead to
city
solutions going forward
, and by extrapolation to

the sustainability
of
the
entire
planet.

Issues such as
energy
-
efficient technologies, policies, regulations and their
enforcement, energy services, and communication all need to be part of the solution.

The
se

problems
are
amenable to the new science of model
l
ing and controllability of complex networks,
with
a
real
promise of new insights and the identification of unanticipated patterns
and key control
points
using statistical p
hysics and non
-
linear dynamics.


In working on energy and cities, it is important
to

interact with
the
entities already
involved in
other parts of the system. Productive interactions logically begin with
the
mayors of cities. Public

private partnerships already exist and the private sector must be
engaged
. The financial community
is criti
cal and capital investment firms
must also

be involved. Last but not least, national
governments have a role to play

by offering long
-
term technology development and financial
incentives
.


Introduction

Economic health, social stability, security
, public
health
,

and
respect for the environment

are
integral parts of
a very

complex
global
system
.
To these we must add energy
,

often taken for
granted, and
on
which t
he entire system
depends
: e
nergy that is

available, reliable
,

affordable

and
accessible
.
S
uccess

or failure
at supplying and using energy
effectively
and efficiently
has

huge
implications for nations,
geographic
regions
,

and
people
.

Although the

individual components of
this complex

global
system are reasonably well
studied and
understood, the
collective behavior of
the ensemble

and the ability to control it,
does not respond to simple explanation

and has not been
studied su
f
ficiently

as a complete system
.
This paper proposes
that we begin
to change
this
situation.


Why
cities
?

T
he m
ost acute
and rapidly gathering
global
energy
emergency
is

around t
he growth of cities.
Cities
are the largest and fastest growing entities on the planet.
Over the next 20 years,
the world

will see
the
addition

of
the equivalent of
10 new cities of 7 million people
every year

(World Energy Council,
2010), most in Asia and Africa

(see also Grubler, 2012)
.
Population densities in large cities are
already highest in Africa and Asia (
Figure 1).


2




Figure 1. Population densities in large cities

(World Energy Council, 2010)
.


The United Nations (Table 1) estimates that by 2050 urban populations will comprise 67% of the
total global population, up from 52% in 2011 (United Nations, 2011). This amounts to an
average of
over 60

million additional peo
ple in cities, every year.



Table 1. Total and urban population forecasts, UN, 2011.


2011

2050

Annual Change
Rate (1970
-
2011)

World Total

6.97 billion

9.31 billion

+ 1.55 %

Urban

3.63 billion

6.25 billion

+ 2.41 %

% Urban

52
%

67
%





3

Alarmingly, the rate of
city
growth is expected to be highest
over

the next 20 years

in very large
cities
.
The

largest
projected growth
is in

the largest cities (Figure 2) where 630
million people
are
expected to be
living

in cities
having a population gre
ater than 10 million by 2025, compared with
slightly more than 350
million people in cities this large
today.




Figure 2. Population by city size
,

in
millions

(
United Nations, 2011
)
.


The reason for this alarming projected growth of cities is
straightforward

people and their
children can find work and take advantage of improved health care and education not available in
the rural countryside, even though they may have to live in a city slum instead of a rural
community.
Because of t
his
extraord
inary growth in cities
,

innovation in
their
energy supply and
use
systems can have the most immediate global impact. Most importantly, from the
viewpoint

of
opportunity, these new cities are being built now (Bettencourt, 2012) and how they are built and
or
ganized will put systems in place tha
t will exist for years to come.

Finally, solutions to the
problem of energy and sustainability in cities will have broad ramifications to the sustainab
ility of
the planet as a whole.


Another reason
cities are so
important

is that cities

contribute disproportionately to the global
economy,
in
total

and on a per capita basis.
More than 50 percent of global GDP
now
comes from
the 600 largest cities
having

22 percent of the population (McKenzie, 2011).
Because of more

opportunities for
the exchange

of ideas and access to more capital,

populations in cities

clearly do
more with less
. Furthermore, most cities
have
well
-
established political systems
that

depend

on
national governments

to varying degrees,
but
in
many

cases very little
.
By looking
intensively
at
cities
,

we
can work

the problem of energy from the bottom
-
up, rather than the usual top
-
down
, and
give fresh input to economic, social
,

and political dynamics
.
Arguably, this is the key to

4

understanding
the
com
plex system

affecting
cities


efficiency,
most
notably energy efficiency
, but
also food and water
.
How
growing
cities approach the provisi
on of services and
the
livelihood

of
their citizens
, both

in urban infrastruc
ture and energy
-
using
technology
,
present
s a major
opportunit
y
for

implementing energy system

transformation
s

(see for example,
a
n

article in
Scientific American
, September 2011)
.


Managing this complex
economic

social
system
,
and
not just in cities,

involves science and
technology, economics, and politics.
To deal with the problem
s

of cities, t
hese different
disciplines
provide
a

template for working

together

in areas such
as water,
food,
security,
limits of
development,
climate,
but beyond
into
the
critical
areas

of polit
ics, economics, and policies
, all of
which

are necessary for action
.


The

logical place to begin is to examine some of the best examples of
success

within

cities

in critical
areas such as buildings, transport, water,
food,
waste, pub
lic health,
policies, and especially the
interactions between them

(Kretschner and Kollemberg, 2011; Lemann, 2011)
.
Examples of city
successes

in the developed world
need to

be examined side
-
by
-
side with

citi
es in the developing
world.
It has been suggeste
d that it woul
d also be useful to contrast mon
o
-
cultural cities (e.g.,
Tokyo, Mexico City,
and
Delhi) with those that are more multi
-
cultural (e.g., Toronto, New York,
and
Johannesburg).
C
omparing policies in
mono
-
cultural
cities with
those in
multi
-
cultural cities

would
point

to lessons that can be practical for everyone.


Controllability of complex systems

T
he

complex system
s

that
are

cities
and
the
interactions between
their
individual elements
need to

be identified and studied if we are to understand and
better
control the
outcome

and

achieve
societal
goals
. The
networks that compose
cities are
amenable to
forecasting and
cont
rol if treated
as a system. E
nergy
systems
must be brought into the equation
early, rather than
later

when

plans
are
being
implemented.

The problem
may be

tractable with

the developing science of modelling
and
controlling

networks involved in complex systems.
Much work has been done

in biological,
social
,

and communications systems

(See for example, Newman,
2010;
Liu et al., 2011;

Motter and
Albert, 2012)
.


All c
ity systems have a strong
social component.
Control theory uses

statistical physics and non
-
linear dynamics to identify unanticipated patterns
and

avoid policies based on

preconceived ideas
,
thus maximizing chances for success
.
A framework for controlling complex, self
-
organized systems
has been lacking (Liu et al., 2011).
M
odels
are now used to
identify a set of “driver nodes” with
time
-
dependent control
s

to guide the dyn
amics of the entire system.
The application of control
theory can help cities guide the behaviour of the complex energy

economic

security

social

environmental system

to a desired result.


To get some idea
of
what cities are dealing with in terms of the
complex set of interactions involved
in achieving

a

sustainable system for their inhabitants that is secure and
affordable
, examine just
the electricity grid, shown in stylized form in Figure 3.



5


Figure 3. Representation of an electric grid

in modern dev
eloped countries
(
la.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fasciculus:
Electricity
_
grid
_
schema
-
_lang
-
en.jpg
)



It should be emphasized that t
his
schematic
representation

include
s

neither
the diverse end uses
of
electricity
in
rural
homes,
nor

in industrial uses
,
both of
whi
ch

are integral to the grid
. Adding all
the appliances

and manufacturing

components
in typical urban homes
and industry
easily doubles
the numbers of
interconnections or nodes

in Figure 3
.
Liu
,

et al
.

(2011)
have identified

5
,
85
5 links
in the power grid that

serves Texas
, which is separate from the larger United States grid
. The key is
to identify those nodes (elements) that can guide the behaviour of the entire system.

This part of
the system
that

supplies electricity to cities is at the heart of what are te
rmed “smart grids
,


which
attempt to vastly improve
the
balance of electricity supply and demand in real time using a modern

6

electronic command and control elements built into the elements of the system (Schock and Sims,
2012
; Razdan, 2012
).


Taking the
electric grid in Figure 3 and a
dding
other energy use systems (e.g.,
appliances, industry,
and
transportation),

water and food distribution makes the
city
system begin

to look something like
the figure below (Figure 4).
Some connections are stronger and ha
ve more influence than others.
U
sing physics and mathematics to examine these systems
will generate

new insights and
identify

unanticipated patterns, particularly of control,
and

eliminat
e

biases from preconceived ideas.

These
new tools hold the promise of

allowing us to acknowledge all the

elements of a complex system
,

su
ch as
a city,

w
ithout approximations to make the system more tractable (Zichichi, 2011).



Figure 4. A network of scientists (Porter et al., 2009)


Policies

Any examination of the areas
impor
tant to
the
success of large cities, especially the central role of
energy,
must ultimately
include

policies. P
olicies
typically

involve

a number of key areas
.

U
sing
complex network theory can help identify
linkages

where policy can be most effectivel
y
implemented. C
ity operation
s where energy efficiency increases

can
be made are obvious
candidates
;

but when examining the entire system
,

this may not be true
.
Building standards, power
generation, and transportation quantity and flow are
areas where
the
optimized implementation of
policies
may

have a large effect
.

T
here are regulations, whose effectiveness depends
to a large
degree

on the
capabilities for enforcement
. T
he provision of services where cities influence the
behaviour of individual people or b
usinesses

is equally important
. Water, waste disposal, utilities,
parks, recreation
, and even food supplies

are
critical to the success of the
whole
city
as an
enterprise
. Finally, there is the area of communication with citizens, corporations, other citie
s, and
national governments,
which

offer an exploration of policies that can have profound effects.



7

Collaborators

To be effective

in this endeavo
u
r
, the
World Federation of Scientists

(WFS)
must begin to
involve

entities already working
on
part
s

of the problem. In government, mayors of various cities and the
C40 group (
www.c40cities.org/
) of the largest
cities
are

already wor
king the issues around
governance

while

focusing on climate
(The C40 represent al
most 300

million people
). There
is the
Energy Sector Management Assistance Program managed
from

the World Bank
(
www.esmap.org/esmap/
).
For transportation
,

see the work of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für
Internationale Zusammenarbeit (
www.gtz.de/en/themen/28263.htm
). Public

private partnerships
already exist and
the private sector
must be involved
. S
ee for
example Siemens

(
2012
)

(
www.usa.siemens.com/sustainable
-
cities/?stc=usccc025507
)
. The financial community is critical
and capital investment firms
must eventually

be involved.

Last but not least, national governments
have a central role to play.

These are
examples and there are many others.


Next steps

There
should be a series of
expert
workshops
, co
-
sponsored by WFS
. The first should involve
people knowledgeable
about

city energy networks and experts in complex network theory. The
goal is to
create

network

maps

with nodes and linkages, and
then
make

a preliminary attempt
to
identify
control nodes.
The

electrical grid
is a reasonable place to start.


Subsequent workshops
can then
investigate the controllability of other energy networks (transport,
fuels) an
d the relationships between the energy system and other systems such as water and food.
At the appropriate time,
o
fficials from key ci
ties
should be brought into the process
who have been
working the larger

issues (e.g., Toronto, Shanghai, Cape Town, Bueno
s Aires, New York, Delhi
,
Tokyo
), from global organizations (e.g., World Bank, UNDEP
, UNEP, ESMAP, C40, OECD
, ICLEI
), from
national and regional political appointees (e.g., California, Ne
w York, Ile de France, Russia)
, and also
from the financial community

(e.g., Goldman

Sachs, Barclays, Deutsche Bank
)
,
.

Papers
derived

from
these workshops and meetings will be published by the World Federation of Scientists in
print

and
on
group
websites.
Finally
, interaction with city policymakers is essential to dissemina
te the results
to achieve more sustainable cities.



Summary

A
t present rates of population growth and migration, a
n unprecedented number of large cities will
appear in the next 20

30 years
with consequences for social stability, energy, food and water
sys
tems,
public health
,
and social stability and security. Th
is presents us with

a unique opportunity
to ensure that these
cities are built using the latest cost
-
effective technologies to ensure the
city
infrastructure will be energy and environmentally
sustainable and encourage economic and social
security for decades
.

This will require that city energy
suppl
ies

and
their
use
are

integrated with
evolving political and economic services
,

and that scientific work on the controllability of complex
networks
is fully utilized
.



Acknow
l
edg
ments

I am grateful for discussions with
William Barletta
, Luis A.M. Bettencourt
,

Carmine Difiglio, William
Fulkerson, Thomas Johansson,
and Anil Razdan
.




8

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aud, A.
, 2003;

Order Without Design
,

http://alain
-
bertaud.com/


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,
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Emergencies; 19
-
24 August, Erice, Italy


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Urban
Energy Systems
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Global Energy
Assessment
, Cambridge University Press


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,
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-
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Publishing