Urban regeneration as a strategic instrument for a design-based relocation of energy

Ivo Caruso


The article is about the issue of energy transition, and in particular the potentiality of the regenerative approach as an opportunity to implement design strategies aimed to improve energy efficiency and in general to obtain high performing local systems. The energy transition, considered as a necessary breakthrough that was for too long time procrastinated, involves a process of technological, productive, political and cultural change towards new forms of social organization, production and use. This process, which began in a critical and experimental way in the 70s and continued in the 90s of the twentieth century, is now accelerating mainly because of strong growth of developing countries that have globally increased the consumption of energy reserves. The gradual depletion of fossil energy resources pushes up the price of energy to an increasingly marked turbulence in world markets. Also without an appropriate technological/scientific response, societies anyway have to change their production levers towards more sustainable methods able to avoid tragic human consequences, being the world population driven to count 9 billion people by 2100. The energy problem is, in fact, closely linked to the food problem, the environmental problem and to the scarcity of water resources worldwide. Whether the man will invent a new way of producing energy or not, in both environmental and economic scenarios an energy transition will however take place. What distinguishes the two scenarios are mainly the consequences of the transition on the world population. Jeffrey D. Sachs identifies three steps that are necessary to transition. The first step is linked to the improvement of energy efficiency, which means using less energy to achieve the same level of welfare. The second one is to go to solar, wind, hydro, nuclear (if we’ll really find effective methods for the disposal of dregs, Ed.), geothermal and other forms of energy that do not rely on fossil fuels. Finally, as long as we continue to rely on fossil fuels, we have to capture CO2 emissions before they end up in the atmosphere (Sachs, 2014).
As happened for food and wine productions and as is now happening for the manufacturing productions, even the energy production and distribution systems are strongly reevaluating the concept of proximity. Local production methods are intended both as a way to produce close to the place of use and as sizing of the production according to the real needs of a community or in general of a specific place. We are therefore witnessing the transition from an highly centralized energy system to configurations characterized by a greater spread, networks that will be less vulnerable and more effective, all connected to small and self-sustainable smart grids, always capable to be well controlled.


Energy transition; urban regeneration; local energy production; stand-alone smart grids

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12896/cse20150010038


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CSE Journal - City Safety Energy is a semiannual journal (Two ISSUES per Year) published by Le Penseur in Brienza (PZ) - Italy | ISSN print edition 2283-8767 | ISSN online edition 2284-3418 - Journal registerd at the Court of Potenza (Italy) n. 219/2014