Valencia uses lampposts to charge electric cars in bid to become carbon neutral

The City of Arts and Sciences, one of the 12 treasures of Spain
The City of Arts and Sciences, one of the 12 treasures of Spain   -   Copyright  ©VisitValència
By Euronews

It may be best know for its stunning architecture but the Spanish city of Valencia has a new ambition: to become carbon neutral by 2030.

Street lights are used to recharge electric cars, with the initiative proving so successful that the initial 12 charging stations is being increased to more than 150.

Motion detection cameras will soon mean these street lights turn on or increase their intensity when someone walks past, as a further energy saving measure.

"Each camera will be monitoring part of the sidewalk or the beach and, when it detects people in its own sector, it turns the lighting on or turns it up. And after about 5 minutes - this has still to be decided - the system will lower the light intensity level," explains Vicente Mayans, Head of Valencia's public lighting department.

It's not just energy that's saved, either. “To make an estimate of the savings, just consider that installing a recharging point of this type costs about 2,500 euros, compared to the 50,000 euros required for the traditional charging points,” says project coordinator Ernesto Faubel.

From fishing community to energy community

Once home to a small fishing community, the famous Cabanyal area has become a lab for energy efficiency. This is thanks to MAtchUP, an EU-funded project aimed at developing and scaling up smart city solutions.

"It is the neighbourhood that has undergone the biggest transformation in the last 7 to 8 years," says Vicente Gallart, Manager of the Public Company Plan Cabanyal. "The level of rehabilitation, of urban regeneration, that has taken place in this neighbourhood has not taken place in any other neighbourhood in the city of Valencia in the last... I would say 20 or 30 years."

Solar panels have also been installed on the roof of the Cabanyal Municipal Market to power its air conditioning system.

“**Solar panels** have been installed in the framework of the MatchUp project. It is one of the pilot projects that we are developing here."

"In particular, the City Council launched a call for tenders to install this type of solar panels, the so-called 'solar pergolas', in five different points of Valencia,” says Laurie Barriol, an R&D Technician working on the EU project MATchUP.

Urban innovation centre Las Naves will soon be home to the city’s first “socialised solar plant”, a 100,000 euro project, 80% of which is financed by citizens who have each invested between 100 and 2,000 euros.

"What we have achieved, through this project, is to create a model, to set-up a methodology," says Victoria Pellicer, energy expert at Las Naves. "From now on it will be very easy to scale up such a public-citizen collaboration and install cofinanced solar plants on many other public roofs"

Valencia is just one of 100 European cities aiming to become carbon neutral by 2030.

Together with Dresden in Germany and Antalya in Turkey, Valencia is one of the so-called lighthouse cities, selected to showcase large-scale demonstrations within the MAtchUP project.

Watch the video above to see Valencia's projects in action.