October 20, 2022
C40 and Google are launching a new 24/7 Carbon-Free Energy for Cities programme to empower cities around the world to run entirely on clean energy, every hour of every day
C40 Cities is joining forces with Google to launch the 24/7 Carbon-Free Energy for Cities programme. This first-of-a-kind programme will support cities around the world to explore the concept of 24/7 carbon-free energy (CFE), accelerate the decarbonisation of regional electricity grids, and enable their residents to benefit from the clean energy transition.
Cities play a major role in the global energy transition: More than half of the world’s population lives in cities, and urban areas are responsible for more than two-thirds of global energy consumption and more than 70% of global carbon emissions. Cities around the world need to rapidly decarbonise their energy use, both to help the world meet global climate goals and to enable them to meet their own climate targets, ensure the health and resilience of their communities, and realise the economic and employment benefits of clean energy.
Pursuing 24/7 CFE means aiming to meet every kilowatt-hour of electricity consumption with carbon-free sources, every hour of every day, every day of the year. C40’s 24/7 Carbon-Free Energy for Cities programme will develop and implement high-impact strategies, practices and tools to enable cities to achieve 24/7 CFE, and support cities seeking to lead in the energy transition. Initial pilot cities include London, Copenhagen and Paris. Each city will build on its ongoing participation in the C40 Renewable Energy Accelerator, and work to address key challenges outlined in a recent C40 white paper on 24/7 CFE for cities. Google will offer each partner city its expertise based on the company's experience in pursuing a 24/7 CFE goal, including data and critical policy and market reforms.
Sadiq Khan, C40 Chair and Mayor of London, said: “When it comes to tackling the climate emergency, I’m determined to ensure that London continues to take bold action. As many national governments around the world dither, cities have a responsibility to act and to show what’s possible. We are the doers, not the delayers.
“The main cause of the climate emergency is fossil fuels so I’m calling on cities around the world to join London and commit to rapidly phasing out their use. This partnership with Google is another crucial step in phasing out fossil fuels, reducing carbon emissions and building a better, greener London for everyone.”
Sophie Hæstorp Andersen, Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, said: “Copenhagen is at the forefront of the energy transition. Decarbonising how we consume and produce energy is a critical priority in our city. We are rapidly deploying wind turbines, solar panels, clean district energy systems and energy efficiency measures in Copenhagen to phase out fossil fuels as soon as possible. This new partnership between C40 and Google will enable us to advance our energy procurement and use clean energy at peak hours. Ultimately this will enable running our municipal operations on clean energy sources 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – setting a path for others to follow."
Caroline Golin, Global Head of Energy Market Development and Policy at Google, said: “At Google, we set the goal of operating on 24/7 carbon-free energy by 2030 both to decarbonise our own operations and to accelerate the decarbonisation of electricity grids globally. We’ve always known that we cannot achieve this goal alone, and we believe cities have a critical role to play in driving the systems-level changes that are needed to deliver a carbon-free energy future. We look forward to working with the cities involved in today’s announcement to implement the principles of 24/7 carbon-free energy, which have been shown to enable deeper and more rapid electricity-related carbon reductions than other approaches.”
C40 Executive Director Mark Watts said: “C40 cities are showing once again that they are doers, not delayers. By embracing innovation and partnership, they are not only helping to explore the 24/7 carbon-free energy concept but they are accelerating the energy transition, phasing out expensive and volatile fossil fuels that are the root of the energy costs crisis.”
Each initial pilot will focus on different challenges associated with decarbonising urban electricity consumption, including areas such as time-matched clean energy procurement for municipal operations, shifting energy use to times of day when solar and wind resources are most abundant, and expanding local clean energy through mini-grids and battery storage. Across all of the pilots, cities will explore policy and market reforms that expand access to clean energy and ensure that residents realise the economic, employment and health benefits of the clean energy transition.
Momentum has been growing around 24/7 CFE since the launch of a UN Energy Compact in September 2021 and several cities including Des Moines, Iowa, and Ithaca, New York, as well as countries like Iceland and Scotland committing to 24/7 CFE targets. The benefits of a 24/7 CFE approach are clear: A study released by the Technical University of Berlin, supported by Google, found that hourly matching of CFE reduces significantly more carbon emissions than the purchase of renewable energy to match annual energy needs. Public-private partnerships are critical to achieving this shift.
Google’s support for this programme is part of a broader commitment to accelerate decarbonisation both within and beyond its own operations, including helping more than 500 cities and local governments reduce an aggregate of 1 gigaton (i.e. 1 billion tons) of carbon emissions annually by 2030. It builds on Google’s long legacy of partnering with cities to improve urban sustainability through innovative tools like its AI tool that measures driving trends at intersections and develops recommendations that city traffic engineers can use to optimise the timing of light changes to reduce stop-and-go traffic, and its Environmental Insights Explorer (EIE), which offers comprehensive data sources and modeling capabilities for cities and regions to analyse their emissions and identify strategies to reduce them. EIE is used by leading city networks including the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, C40 and ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, and hundreds of individual cities around the world have signed up to use its data.