By Daniel Hunter
A major project worth more than £3 million will secure a bright future for low carbon energy in Glasgow and three other major European cities after gaining the green light from the European Commission.
The STEP-UP project will bring together excellence in energy planning and accelerate the development of innovative energy projects throughout Europe. It will be led by the University of Strathclyde in partnership with Glasgow City Council, ScottishPower and the ambitious northern European cities of Gothenburg, Ghent and Riga.
Industrial and research partners in each of the cities will work together to significantly enhance their low carbon energy strategies and tackle the Europe 2020 energy targets for improved energy efficiency, growth of renewable energy and carbon emissions reduction.
The project will draw on the partner cities’ experience and expertise to create a coherent and easy-to-use model for energy planning that will be adopted in multiple cities to deliver faster and greater benefits.
Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal of the University of Strathclyde, said: “I am delighted that this ambitious collaborative project will allow Glasgow and Scotland to build on a growing global reputation for excellence in the energy field.
“As a leading international technological university, Strathclyde is well placed to lead this innovative project and maximise the capacity of our world-class research to help shape the future for energy planning. This is the leading project of its kind in Europe and will help industry and government meet the major energy challenges in the years ahead.
“Ghent, Riga and Gothenburg have much in common with Glasgow and together we will work to transform current energy systems into a more sustainable, competitive and secure model.”
The STEP-UP project is closely linked to Sustainable Glasgow, a city-wide partnership formed to help Glasgow become one of the most sustainable cities in Europe — and one of the best places to live and work. It brings together partners from higher education, the public and private sectors to work with local people, communities and businesses.
Additional support from the Scottish Cities Alliance will expand the impact of the project to all Scotland’s cities after £50,000 was committed from the Cities Investment Fund. The alliance aims to attract investment, create jobs and help Scotland's cities compete more successfully on the international stage.
Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Cities, said: “Reducing emissions in Scotland's cities will play an important part in meeting our climate change targets, presenting opportunities to invest in urban infrastructure, boost local economies, and improve quality of life. Cities provide some of the best opportunities for sustainable living but significant investment and coherent energy infrastructure planning is needed to make our cities more sustainable.
“This project will help cities plan their energy infrastructure to make better and smarter use of energy and I am delighted that the Scottish Cities Alliance has chosen to use £50,000 from the Cities Investment Fund to expand the project and deliver these benefits to all of our cities.”
Leader of Glasgow City Council, Cllr Gordon Matheson said: “This project is an example of how the Sustainable Glasgow partnership is bringing together higher education and the public and private sectors to deliver benefits for communities.
“Together, we are cultivating the knowledge, skills and expertise to galvanise Glasgow’s position as centre of excellence in the low carbon economy — and attract investment and jobs to the city.”
The STEP UP project will get underway in Autumn of this year — and will finish in Spring 2015. As a part of the project the University of Strathclyde will develop a new Masters course in Sustainable City Planning and Implementation to be taught with other Universities in Europe.
George Kirk, Smart Cities Director at ScottishPower Energy Networks, said: “ScottishPower Energy Networks is excited to be part of this collaboration, and we are sure that there will be much to learn from each of the cities and partners involved. The ambition to have smarter, low-carbon energy networks is shared globally, and this project will encourage best practice to be shared internationally.
“The University of Strathclyde is at the cutting edge of low carbon energy developments, and we are pleased to be expanding our long-standing relationship with them. We also have a good working relationship with Glasgow City Council through ‘Sustainable Glasgow’ and we hope to bring real benefit to the City through this collaboration, using best practice from across Europe.”
Richard Bellingham, Deputy Director of the Fraser of Allander Institute at University of
Strathclyde, will be European coordinator for the project.. He said: “With cities now comprising over half of the world’s population, the way we live, work and deliver services in cities has never been more important. Through our strong partnership STEP-UP will deliver tangible benefits for people and businesses in cities across Europe.”
The funding was secured in face of stiff competition from cities across Europe and has been obtained through the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). FP7 supports the European Union’s strategy to become the most dynamic competitive knowledge-based economy in the world. Fundamental to that strategy is research, education and innovation.
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