by Giulia Chiuso
MONACO. On Monday 8 October 2018, the Mayor of Monaco Georges Marsan signed the National Energy Transition Pact Commitment Charter. The objective for City Hall is to join the effort to achieve a carbon-free Monaco. The signing ceremony was attended by Marie-Pierre Gramaglia, Minister of Public Works, the Environment and Urban Development, Annabelle Jaeger-Seydoux, Director of the Mission for Energy Transition, Marjorie Crovetto-Harroch, Deputy Mayor for Quality of Life, the Environment and Sustainable Development, members of the Council of the Commune, heads of municipal departments and environmental representatives from each of the departments at City Hall. The National Pact, introduced in January, seeks to engage the Monegasque community in efforts to achieve the country’s greenhouse gas emissions targets: a reduction of 50% (compared with 1990 levels) by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050. “The commitment made by Monaco City Hall sends a strong signal to our compatriots. You are in daily contact with them and can therefore, through your undertakings, not only lead by example but also engage people in a positive movement to promote the energy transition,” said Marie-Pierre Gramaglia.
The tool comprises a Commitment Charter covering the three energy transition priorities: transport, waste and energy. There are also around a dozen action plans covering specific sectors (institutions, individuals, shops, property developers, architects, industries, etc.) and setting out the minimum mandatory actions as well as the impact these will have on avoided emissions. This allows everyone to understand what they can do in practice, at their own level and in their own field. H.S.H. the Sovereign Prince was the first to sign up to the National Pact, followed by his Government. The Pact now has more than 500 signatures. Everyone in the Principality can sign up to this Charter, whether as an association, as a company, or as an individual. Renewable energy sources are energies which are inexhaustible within a human timescale and derived from natural sources such as the sun, the wind, waterfalls, the sea, the heat of the Earth and plant growth. Commonly known as “clean” or “green” energy sources, they produce very little waste or polluting emissions. The best known renewable energy sources are solar and wind energy, but there are many others. For example, hydropower is the term used to describe energy which comes from water, including wave energy, tidal energy and energy from currents (hydrokinetic energy or hydroelectric dams). Biomass and geothermal energy are other examples. In Monaco, it is possible to capture the energy from the sun in two ways: with solar photovoltaic panels, which transform sunlight into electricity, and with solar thermal panels, which use the energy produced by the sun’s rays to heat water.
It is primarily solar photovoltaic panels that are found on building roofs in Monaco. To date, 18 buildings in Monaco have been equipped with solar PV or thermal panels, and the Principality intends to increase this number. Since 2008, the Government has offered grants for the installation of solar PV and thermal panels. In June 2017, the Government also published an online solar resource map, which can be accessed by any Internet user and provides information on the solar PV production capacity of every roof in Monaco Thanks to Monaco favourable weather, solar energy is one of the most promising renewables so it is vital to take advantage of it! Another renewable energy source with strong potential that is already being well used in Monaco is the energy from the sea. While air temperature varies a lot according to season, the sea enjoys relatively stable temperatures at depth all year round.
Using heat pump technology, it is possible to draw heat or cold from seawater to warm or cool buildings, or to heat swimming pools. Buildings which take advantage of this form of energy need to consume electricity to operate the heat pumps, which then produce between three and four times more energy that they use. The Optima PAC project, which was completed in Monaco in 2015, showed that heat pump technology did not have a harmful effect on the marine environment, and that it would be possible to further optimise its performance in the future. Monaco was one of the first countries to develop the use of this type of energy along its coastline. The Principality installed its first seawater heat pump in 1963 at the Rainier III Outdoor Swimming Stadium to heat the water for the pool. The country now has more than 80 pumps. Some of the buildings in Monaco which are heated or cooled using seawater heat pumps include the Grimaldi Forum, the Oceanographic Museum, the Rainier III Auditorium and the SBM buildings. The Principality has plans to develop two ocean thermal energy loops to expand the use of this source of energy. Instead of having one seawater heat pump per building, these pumps will be linked to a water system circulating through pipes feeding several buildings, some of which may be further away from the coast. This will improve the efficiency of the technology, reduce costs and allow more buildings to benefit from this source of energy. There are plans to develop one such loop in the Condamine district, and another in the Larvotto Discrict. This will provide a particularly attractive alternative for buildings currently heated using fuel oil, or which have air conditioning installed, providing significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in the region of 80%. If buildings were to opt to switch to natural gas for heating in place of fuel oil, there would only be a 25% reduction in emissions.
Ocean thermal energy loops are an important step on the path to energy transition. Geothermal energy makes it possible to recover heat from the ground to warm buildings, or to cool buildings by injecting their surplus heat into the earth. The potential for the use of geothermal energy in Monaco remains uncertain, because the temperature of the sub-soil in the country is lower than that found in some other countries with strong potential in this area, such as Iceland. Nonetheless, some buildings in Monaco have geothermal probes incorporated into their foundations and attach their heat pumps to them. This allows surplus heat to be removed in order to cool some spaces without using a lot of energy (by replacing air conditioning, for example). It is a solution which can help to make buildings more energy efficient and which is used in, for example, the Tour Odéon, La Petite Afrique and Villa Engelin. Moreover, the Government is constantly exploring opportunities to develop new types of renewable energy in Monaco, for example wind power adapted to the urban environment, or wave energy. While their potential in Monaco remains to be proven, perhaps we will see new systems in future as research and development progresses here and around the world. It is also important for Monaco and for the Prince Albert II Foundation to understanding, characterizing, and modeling complex hydrologic systems. The FPA2 maintains close relations with scientists around the world on this fundamental question. “We are being called upon to address problems that are complex and messy because no clear pathways of solutions may exists, and often multiple solutions may present equally (un)satisfying outcomes,” said Professor Praveen Kumar, a well- known authority in the field.
In fact, we’ve created increasingly efficient infrastructures to harness and store the precious resource, reaching a scale so enormous that human activities now have a substantial impact on the global water cycle. The water cycle is intimately linked with Earth’s carbon, nutrient, and energy cycles—all of which have been greatly impacted by human activities. The complexity of these interconnected systems ensures that any perturbation—for example, a forest fire, a catastrophic flood, or an extended drought—will have unpredictable consequences as it propagates through each cycle. Because these emergent responses are nearly impossible to plan for or protect against, they pose a great threat to humans. His integrated framework of the water cycle and humanity’s place in it, which he calls “hydrocomplexity,” aims to identify the best practices for addressing emergent threats against water security that come from climate change, increasing reliance on limited resources, and intensive land management and development. The author argues that in order to model how perturbations will propagate through the water, carbon, and nutrient cycles and generate various emergent responses, scientists need a comprehensive understanding of the processes at play in each of the interconnected cycles. He also suggests that hydrologic patterns will likely be revealed through the integration of models with a rapidly growing body of diverse observational records by computational systems that crunch large volumes of data. Finally, understanding how information flows through institutional networks and triggers human action will also provide insights toward developing effective solutions to water scarcity that people will actually adopt. Managing water scarcity, one of the most pressing challenges society faces today, will require a novel conceptual framework to understand our place in the hydrologic cycle. The interplay of climate variability and change, global water crisis, and human impact on the water cycle pose the most significant challenge for hydrology today. Inter-disciplinary researches deal with Hydrocomplexity, the quantitative understanding and prediction of emergent patterns of form and function that arise from complex non-linear multi-scale interactions between soil, water, climate, vegetation and human systems, and how this understanding can be used for innovative solutions to water and sustainability challenges. Human civilizations have always sprouted up around bodies of water. Already, much of the world is dealing with an extreme and chronic shortage of freshwater; essentially, humans are using the resource faster than it can be replenished by the normal hydrologic cycle. The underlying idea of the author’s framework is that understanding our role in the complex water cycle is the first step toward managing inevitable water security challenges of the future.