Major architectural design firms like Forster + Partners are now designing “green cities” like the $22 billion Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, but Rem Koolhaus’ Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) has gotten even more ambitious, recently partnering with McKinsey & Company, Kema energy consultants, and the Imperial College of London to create a plan for the next-generation energy infrastructure of Europe, writes The Guardian (UK). The plan, called Roadmap 2050, is based in the belief that “drastic intervention is required to mitigate climate change,” but the solution should also empower the European Union (EU). Roadmap 2050, commissioned by the European Climate Foundation, comes up with creative solutions to meet the bold target of 80 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050.
According to The Guardian, the plan starts with the idea that renewable energy sources like wind and solar are unreliable throughout the day so they must be coupled with other forms of power. Additionally, some countries are blessed with some types of renewable energy sources, but not others. For instance, Britian has lots of wind, but not much sun, while Spain has lots of sun, but isn’t known for wind. To ensure all of Europe has access to these different renewable energy sources, a new continent-wide smart grid is needed to link these. “If it was windless in Britain but sunny in Spain, power could travel from them to us, and vice versa.”
The proposal is not only technical, but also political — it would encourage further EU integration. These new united states of “Eneropa” could be considered in terms of their contributions of renewable energy and role in a EU-wide smart grid. “Ireland and the western half of Britain become the ‘tidal states,’ while the eastern half forms part of the ‘isles of wind.’ Former Yugoslavia is miraculously reunited as ‘Biomassburg.’ Most of Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece become ‘Solaria.'” However, while each state makes a contribution to the joint EU renewable energy system, they can maintain their distinct cultural (and energy) identities, argues OMA.
There are even rough numbers estimated with this massive renewable energy infrastructure investment. “The scheme would not cost all that much per head, especially when compared with road-building, war in Iraq, or bailing out bankers. They point out the benefit of reducing reliance on Middle Eastern oil and Russian gas. They argue that the economic benefits would outweigh the costs.” However, in reality lots would need to change on the policy and regulatory levels to make this happen. (See an earlier discussion on the opportunities and challenges involved in just rolling out a smart-grid in a city, at least in the U.S.)
Also, check out the actual report.
Image credit: Map of Eneropa / OMA