BARCELONA, Spain — Barcelona is more than just a buzzing Mediterranean tourist destination. It’s a city with ambitious goals to become one of Europe’s greenest cities by 2020.
The Barcelona Energy Agency and city council are currently pushing 108 green projects in the city, outlined in the Energy, Climate Change and Air Quality Plan 2011-2020. From improving public transportation to tapping new energy sources from the city’s natural resources, the aim is to reduce energy consumption by 9 percent and cut CO2 emissions by 16 percent over the next nine years.
The Zona Franca Energy Plant plays a central role in reducing the city’s carbon footprint. It will eventually produce more than 2.9 TWh of power, 56 percent of this amount from renewable or recycled energy sources.
The first phase, a biomass plant where trimmings from Barcelona’s parks and gardens are transformed into energy, has just started operating. Eventually it will also make use of residual cooling from a regasifier and a photovoltaic solar energy infrastructure.
With an average of 7 hours of sunshine a day, solar energy has been an obvious energy alternative in Barcelona for years and continues to be an important focus. The city boasts the largest photovoltaic installation in Europe: the solar pergola at the Parc del Forum, where 150,000 kW/h are produced annually from the sun’s rays. As part of the Energy Plan 2011-2020, many more similar solar panel installations will be installed on public buildings across the city.
In addition, Barcelona is experimenting with many other ways to promote and educate its citizens to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. As Irma Soldevilla i Garcia of the Barcelona Energy Agency says: “We and the city council need to push for actions that demonstrate what renewable energy is. By 2020, Barcelona could be a more environmentally conscious city, in which careful energy consumption will be a regular part of people’s lives.”