“Meet me where the air is fresh and you hear the birds sing”
Sounds like a country song or a claim for a travel agency. Well actually, we are in Malmö in the south of Sweden. Here, and especially in the city district of Hyllie, you can experience city life of the future and it is probably greener, cleaner and calmer than your city right now.
In 2018, more than half of the world’s population lived in urban areas and the figure keeps rising. Where other places are still planning & conceptualizing, Malmö is two steps ahead. The showcase neighborhood in Hyllie became a global role model for sustainable city development. The three project partners, E.ON, VA SYD (the local water & waste company) & the City of Malmö signed a Climate Contract and worked successfully on solutions for smart and clean energy supply, consumption, infrastructure and transport. Today, it’s a prime real estate destination offering everything you need from a commercial center, to public swimming pools and offices. It is especially loved by young families. But Malmö has more to offer than one green district. The city wants to become 100 percent renewable by 2030.
Jonas Kamleh, former Head of Climate and Natural Resources for the City of Malmö was the project lead and a hero. Not one with a black cape or a mask, but with a passion for fighting one of mankind’s biggest challenges: climate change. We wanted to know how Malmö manages to become sustainable during the global mega trend of urbanization and where the path will lead them in the future.
Jonas, please tell us about your city
Malmö has already made huge strides toward becoming a sustainable smart city. You will see rooftop solar panels, energy-storage devices, smart meters, charge points in home garages, and biogas plants fueled by compost from our citizens’ kitchens or gardens – they’re all a reality around our city. We took a holistic approach to our climate actions, which has been an important starting point. We are looking for more flexible and smart energy systems that enable high energy efficiency, better utilization of available energy- and resource flows and the capability to manage and optimize the usage of energy to harmonize with availability of renewable energy sources.
Interactive information technology and visualization, including the integration of smart grid solutions with energy management and storage, have been developed in Hyllie to optimize the area's total energy consumption. Smart technology in infrastructure, buildings and homes, combined with new business models, allows us to meet future needs in a resource- and cost-effective way. Functionalities in production, distribution and consumption optimisation in interaction with distributed local solutions and centralised infrastructural assets were also developed in this project. We learned a lot in Hyllie which we use now for further projects.
What is currently happening around mobility in Malmö?
We know we still have a lot more to do. We created a momentum in the Hyllie project. E.ON’s smart grid platform, which was first developed and tested in Hyllie, is now being rolled out on a large scale in Malmö and, in other cities. Another focus area is to replace cars that rumble and puff smoke with ones that hum. We want mobility without emissions or noise. To run Malmö solely on renewables by 2030 will take clean energy and smart solutions. Like charging electric vehicles (EVs) with surplus solar power.
Half of our city buses are already electric, and EV ownership here is rising faster than the national average. EVs running on renewable energy – along with more car-sharing, cycling, walking, and public transport – will make Malmö cleaner and quieter. More EVs, though, will need more places to charge. That’s where E.ON comes in. E.ON is installing the charging infrastructure as well as charging stations in parking facilities so people can recharge their EVs on the go.
What recommendations would you give someone who is starting a similar project in their region?
In the beginning you need to define your goals and ensure everybody has a mutual understanding of them, not only within your team but especially with your partners. Only if all stakeholders have the same understanding you can start moving forward and identify the things that need to change. Therefore, an analysis of what needs to happen in the beginning of a process is helpful. The second thing I would highly recommend is looking for a trustful partner and building long-term partnerships. We have had a mutually benefiting relationship between E.ON and the City of Malmö, which helped us a lot to come closer to our goals. Also there are a lot of benefits for companies like E.ON when partnering with cities, e.g. testing solutions in practical situations. Working and developing the solution together makes it much easier and you will move forward faster to find a reliable sustainable and long-term solution for the city.