G20 Collateral Event Resilient cities: renewable energy policies and technology solutions

31 March 2021 |Virtual

The global energy transition must be accelerated in order to decarbonise the energy sector by the middle of this century and meet the climate objectives of the Paris Agreement. To make the transition a reality, the deployment of renewable energy technologies combined with energy efficiency improvement and enhanced electrification needs to be scaled up through innovative policies, strategic energy planning and modernized energy infrastructure for every end-use sector, at national but also local level.

Just over half of the world’s population (4.8 billion people in 2018) now lives in cities. By 2050, this number is expected to nearly double. Cities, engines of the economy and migration magnets, already account for 65% of global energy use and 70% of human-made carbon emissions. Urban-level energy planning and decision-making are critical to the success of the overall energy transformation. The energy transition can support local economic development objectives and will boost urban resilience in the face of challenges like  climate change, air pollution, geopolitical risks, supply uncertainties and price volatility.

In a variety of roles, cities are uniquely positioned to promote renewable energy. Municipal authorities are energy planners and regulators (e.g., with regard to urban zoning, building permits, and solar ordinances). They also have a financial role to play (e.g., levying local taxes and fees, providing low-interest loans, or issuing municipal green bonds). Finally, cities are often important owners or operators of energy-generating facilities and related urban infrastructure.

Since 2013, IRENA has examined policies for renewable energy deployment in cities and has developed urban renewables assessment tools. IRENA has published case studies of cities around the world, while examining the roles of stakeholders and distilling policy guidelines for cities in the power generation, buildings and transport sectors. IRENA is now launching  its mosts recent report, Renewable Energy Policies for Cities: Experiences in China, Uganda and Costa Rica. The publication analyses policy experiences and includes case studies of renewable energy-powered initiatives, programmes and policies in medium-sized cities in the three indicated countries.

As part of the same project, IRENA’s contributions includes technologies and innovations that can be transferred from developed cities to developing cities, e.g. the rooftop Solar City Simulator, demand-side management and geothermal district heating and cooling.


The session aimed at providing policymakers and urban energy planners with an understanding of the policy options, technical solutions, and examples that can support the development of the renewable energy sector at a city-level depending on their own context, state of the national energy markets, and specific objectives to achieve. The discussion went beyond policies and strategies, to include planning tools and renewable energy solutions.

The session offered an opportunity to discuss suitable policy instruments and technologies, as well as consider strategies for urban energy transformations that allow cities to foster a renewable energy future, drawing on examples of municipal authorities acting as planners, regulators, financiers and operators of urban infrastructure.

Closed event (by invitation only).