Since 2009, Portugal has aimed to be a leader in terms of electric mobility, developing new energy models for sustainability. One city, in particular, Évora, the capital of Portugal’s south-central Alentejo region, served as the first pilot project for smart city development. In 2010, InovCity Évora kicked off, showing both Portugal and the world real-life examples of energy efficiency, micro generation and electrical mobility. Just one year later, the country was met with a more threatening challenge: an economic and financial crisis. Évora proved that a renewable energy policy is even more crucial during a financial crisis and that even in hard times, cities can create positive change and innovative solutions. — Philippe Leonard (article available in Portuguese)
Setting a smart energy example
One of the main goals for InovCity Évora was the introduction and use of electric vehicles in the city. When the crisis hit in 2012, the increase in the price of gasoline, fuel and electricity posed an additional challenge, showcasing the importance of a conversion from imported energy to renewable energy sources. The government stepped in, drafting a plan with new national goals for 2020, aiming to reach a consumption of 31 percent in the use of renewable energy sources and 10 percent in transport energy consumption. This fits perfectly in line with the smart city’s Mobi.E Programme, which was designed in 2009 to drive the development of electric models and ultimately improve the quality of life for citizens in Évora.
Partner projects in Europe
In 2013, the city joined forces with Cesena, Italy; Trikala, Greece; and Nottingham, England for the European-funded InSmart project, creating a sustainable energy model that would tackle current and future energy needs. By working together as a team to find solutions for issues like district heating networks, street lighting, fuel consumption and waste collection, these cities were able to exchange information and practices to create plans they could share amongst each other.
Fast forward to 2017 and Évora is serving as an even stronger example at home in Portugal as one of five cities that are part of the Smart Cities Tour 2017. Led by Portugal Telecom, Portimão, Évora, Cascais, Viseu and Gaia will each host a thematic workshop to create an “urban intelligence roadmap,” promoting how smart city solutions such as fiber optics will arm Portugal with the tools it needs to make the entire country a leader in terms of digital development.