And it’s a difficult task. How do you frame the right questions and parameters that will define the task? Who do you ask for the right advice? And how do you ensure that all interested parties, especially the local communities and businesses in the city are involved?
Perhaps this is why no one has yet solved the dilemma of a connected and efficient energy system on a city wide basis, that also provides real community benefit.
Quite simply the multiple permutations of different needs and solutions make the whole task almost impossible for one individual or organisation to manage. A company specialising in photovoltaic technology can’t advise on district heating schemes, indeed digging even deeper who is to say that that PV supplier is even the best to provide a particular PV solution for a given project?
But how can the organisations and companies that understand the challenges and possible solutions effectively influence projects so that more and better projects are developed?
Importantly even this argument forgets the most important part of the whole debate – how will all of this benefit both the citizens and businesses in Leeds and how do we define what Leeds needs to achieve?
SmartKlub Leeds was set up to address these very questions and to do something about them. Gridlock is simply not an option if we are to solve the issues identified by the city – more about these issues later.
Competition is a good thing if we are to remain efficient, but to break free of this gridlock a new era of collaboration is also needed where all interested parties, the public sector, private companies both national and SMEs within the city plus local communities can all be bought together. It means the overall needs of the city can be defined, particular projects identified and then the best answers sought.
And the more collaboration there is between all the interested parties the better; it brings a greater pool of shared experience and expertise to SmartKlub Leeds.
So what exactly is SmartKlub Leeds? It is quite simply an organisation that connects the public sector, suppliers and local communities and SMEs together to help define and create innovative energy projects.
Leeds is undoubtedly a forward looking and innovative city having established the Energy Forum two years ago. Working with them we have defined the objectives for SmartKlub Leeds as to save significant amounts of carbon, to beat fuel poverty, but with a sound business case.
Now we have started to identify projects and define solutions for these projects. One of the first projects is to tackle the refurbishment of approximately 120 tower blocks for the council. Future projects will explore how to manage energy on the council’s new build programme and connecting them to different energy sources, examining transport and mobility issues and then – well watch this space!
Importantly realising solutions to these projects is not possible without the expertise and solutions provided by the multiple SmartKlub Leeds members as a collective. If you are not already a member then it really will pay dividends for you to join.
Find out more about SmartKlub Leeds and how you could get involved by visiting http://smartklub.org/smart-cities-projects/leeds/
Paul Connell is the Operations Director at SmartKlub and is responsible for the implementation and management of SmartKlub Leeds in the city.