A rich and long history is no obstacle when it comes to preparing for the future. Florence, the capital of the Renaissance, is becoming a model smart city, thanks to a partnership with Enel that is making the city one of Italy’s most cutting edge in terms of electric mobility and energy efficiency.
At Palazzo Vecchio the “Florence model” was the subject of speeches by Mayor Dario Nardella, Enel CEO Francesco Starace, Francesco Venturini, Head of the Global e-Solutions division at Enel and Giovanni Bettarini, Florence council assessor for urban planning and the smart city concept.
Opening the event the mayor, speaking with understandable pride, pointed out that the city of Florence had won a Euromobility 2017 award as “the first electric city in Italy.” The figures are impressive: 179 public recharging columns in the city (almost one for every thousand inhabitants) including 4 Fast Recharge Plus that enable recharging in just 20 minutes (one such column was inaugurated yesterday), more than 4 thousand electric vehicles in the metropolitan area and 70 electric taxis (the highest number in Italy).
Then there are the future projects, also thanks to the partnership with Enel: “REPLICATE” is financed by the European Union for the improvement of energy efficiency in the outskirts of the city (smart grid, smart lighting, district heating etc.) and “FURBA” (Florence Urban Rapid Bus Transport), which is still awaiting approval and finance, plans the creation of a public transport corridor with four totally electric 18-metre “Jumbo Buses.”
“We are very proud to present this solid, strong partnership for the future with Enel, with whom we share common values and strategies,” said the mayor as he described “the smallest global city in the world.” “Nowadays it is the public and private transport system that will transform big cities around the world.”
The Florence mayor had spoken about these issues just a few days ago in New York as a guest of the United Nations at an important event organised by Enel about sustainable cities. Francesco Starace also spoke on the topic during his speech in which he explained that in 2030 two thirds of the world’s population will be living in metropolitan areas, which will need to be different from those today: they must be cleaner, more sustainable and more connected.
The key factor will be technology. “Ten years ago electric mobility was only talked about,” explained the Enel CEO, “What we are saying today will be laughable in five years: the transition will last ten, twenty, thirty years but it will come to fruition and when it does we will be staggered at how we lived before.”
The advantages of green mobility are legion: reducing greenhouse gas, cutting noise pollution, greater efficiency, cars used as mobile batteries, etc. Soon electric cars will also be cheaper, thanks to the falling cost of recharging batteries. “And in twenty years half of all cars sold around the world will be electric,” explained Venturini.
Without recharging infrastructure, however, we cannot go far and that is where Enel’s National Plan for recharging columns becomes so important. “We have illustrated the plan to Minister Delrio, we are finalising the details and we will be making a presentation in September,” announced Starace. “We will be installing 10 to 15 thousand public recharging columns in the next three years, beginning from the end of this year,” added Venturini, after having pointed out that since 2009 (the year before the first column was installed in Italy, in Pisa) Enel has developed 50 projects for sustainable mobility that have been created or are being created in Italy.
So, can Florence become a benchmark for smart cities in Italy? Starace expressed “great satisfaction with the intelligence with which Florence has dealt with the concept of the smart city and has been able to organize the city,” pointing out that few Italian councils include the role of an assessor for the smart city concept. “For us the term smart city means many things, but above all, the connectivity between the networks and the pervasiveness of the system: through this it is possible to provide low cost services by creating synergies with the existing networks in the city. Among the many networks is that of fibre optic cabling: Florence is one of the main cities in which we have decided to launch this great national project that has seen us become involved all over Italy.