Living just enough for the city

News editor

Cities are growing and proliferating, and finding ways for them to contribute to a sustainable future is on the agenda for a major student summit taking place in Norway

Moving from a sleepy rural backwater or small town to a thriving metropolis can be quite daunting but over time you assimilate and behaviours that were once alien and unnerving become the norm.

No two days are ever the same and the economic and cultural benefits can be considerable. If these factors are important then moving to a city is probably the right move for you.

Cities are growing and between 2001 and 2011 London alone experienced a 12 per cent rise in its population to 8.2 million.

The organisers of an event taking place in Norway this week point out that the world’s cities occupy two per cent of the Earth, but account for up to 80 per cent of the overall energy consumption and 75 per cent of its carbon emissions.

How can cities contribute to a more sustainable future, given that around half of the world’s population lives in cities?

This is one of the many questions that will be raised at ISES 2013, The International Student Energy Summit taking place in Trondheim between June 13-15.

Statkraft, Europe’s largest renewable energy company, has challenged the delegates attending to design a plausible and sustainable energy scenario for the UK in 2050.

Furthermore, a diverse range of sessions have been arranged that look at the very real issues facing the energy sector today, from raising finance to making the most of current resources in an environmentally-friendly way.

A session devoted to nuclear energy will ask if nuclear energy can contribute to a more sustainable energy future (one would hope the answer to this question is a resounding ‘yes’), and another will address the thorny issue of biofuels and their impact on food production.

The session, Energy’s impact on our global food supply, will highlight the food versus fuel dilemma, asking how much farmland should be used for the production of biofuels when one billion people are estimated to go hungry.

Similar topics are on the agenda at this week’s 2nd Annual Biofuels Conference in Amsterdam where leaders from the biofuels supply chain will discuss the future of the industry with organisations shaping its future.

The organisers say one session, Alternative feedstocks for Africa’s biofuels, will deliver an overview of current initiatives in place to support biofuels production in Africa and outline of the potential for the use of plantains as a source of ethanol. It will look also at the conclusions and economics of a study into using solar photovoltaic as a supplement for electric power generation when using cassava and plantains.

Finally, our student friends in Trondheim might like to keep abreast of an IMechE event taking place tomorrow in London.

The lecture, The influence of weather on renewable energy predictability and performance is to be delivered Phil Evans, government services director at the Met Office, an organization that supports the development of wind energy in the UK and Europe both on and offshore.

It has invested in the development of science and services to support all the stages in the life cycle of a wind farm and can provide detailed understanding of the expected availability of wind and climatic trends required for the initial business case for investment and management of ongoing productivity.

According to publicity material Evans will ‘explore the background to weather forecasting required to support the renewable industry, discuss climatic variations in wind resources, and how science can support this industry’s growth.’

More on the Met Office’s services to the renewable energy industry can be found here.