Quality of cities, the magazine of the RATP group that shows THE CITY DIFFERENTLY.

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Inspirations

How did these cities take action to reduce their energy footprint?

Take action to change our personal and collective habits. In the face of the climate emergency, that might seem obvious. But in reality, it’s not so easy. So, what drives people to take action? What is it that spurs them on?

Minimal footprint, local energy

The La Roche-sur-Yon urban area is making great strides in the move to decarbonise mobility. Since October 2021, the very first green hydrogen bus has been running on the public transport network, Impulsyon, operated by RATP Group subsidiary RATP Dev. This innovation adds to a fleet that already contains 3 buses running on natural gas and two fully electric minibuses. And the commitment is in place to reduce the fleet’s CO2 emissions through the acquisition of ever less polluting vehicles.

At the other end of the chain, in clean energy production, another major change is under way. Last November, also in the La Roche-sur-Yon area, the Vendée departmental energy and equipment agency (Sydev) inaugurated the first green multi-energy power plant. On a never-before-seen scale in France, it produces green hydrogen and bioCNG locally and with a short supply chain, and also supplies green electricity for superchargers. And this is only a start. By the end of 2022, Sydev and Vendée Énergie, a semi-public company for the production and distribution of renewable energy, plan to open two further three-energy stations in the region.

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"We worked with the local authority before the opening of the station, to identify the most efficient hydrogen-powered rolling stock."

Alexandre Galvez
Director of RATP Dev subsidiary CTY, operator of the Impulsyon network

How is the Impulsyon transport network moving towards using decarbonised energy?

A.G. Historically, it has been a local approach led by the departmental energy and equipment agency (Sydev). This agency is tasked with organising the management and distribution of electricity, gas, and now hydrogen. Initially, Sydev worked on a pioneering network of charging stations for electric vehicles. It then set up a second network for natural gas.

Hence, a departmental ecosystem has gradually been put in place. The urban area wanted to be part of this dynamic and to take it even further. The most striking example was the inauguration of Sydev’s green multi-energy station in La Roche-sur-Yon. The first of its size in France, it can supply bioCNG, green electricity for charging stations and green hydrogen. The station is open to public and private vehicles alike, and it is there that we refuel our hydrogen bus.

What benefits does this first hydrogen bus provide to passengers?

A.G. The aim was that they should only feel the benefits. Quality of service must be taken for granted. We kept this in mind as we worked with the local authority long before the opening of the hydrogen station, to identify the most efficient rolling stock, most suited to the characteristics of the network.

As this bus replaces its predecessor which ran on diesel, it has to be able to make the same journeys. It thus has a very long range, over 450 km in real conditions, and offers only advantages, as it is silent, comfortable, and has a low floor for easy accessibility. Plus the fact, of course, that it does not pollute.

What are the next steps?

A.G. A second hydrogen bus will join the fleet by the end of the year, along with a hydrogen minibus to provide a shuttle service for companies in a business park.

We want to provide an increasingly relevant offer, evolving to meet expectations and needs, and with a progressively renewed fleet to guarantee clean mobility.

Lappeenranta, avant-garde approach

What was it that prompted Finland’s 13th largest city to take a spectacular lead in the field of ecology as early as 1990? Was it Finland’s pioneering environmental protection culture? Or maybe this city’s close relationship with nature, with its economy based on the timber industry and tourism? Whatever the reason, Lappeenranta won the European Green Leaf award in 2021, which recognises small cities that take account of the environment in their urban planning.

And the city does not intend to stop there, as it is aiming for carbon neutrality by 2030 and zero waste by 2050. The secret? The municipal team steers and coordinates involvement at all levels, creating a real network that includes the city’s residents, its university and local companies. In Lappeenranta, this is a winning trio for the climate.

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Vancouver, a green pioneer

When elected mayor in 2009, Gregor Robertson made an ambitious promise: to make Vancouver the greenest city in the world. With his team, he launched the “Greenest City 2020” plan, which tackled the problem of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions head-on by addressing ten specific areas. Very early on, for example, the city adopted a particularly rigorous building code.

Since then, Vancouver has held the Canadian record for the most buildings certified to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards. Today, all new buildings must feature zero carbon emissions. A major factor, given that buildings represent around 50% of the energy consumption of big cities.

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