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Energy City – topos 120

Tobias Hager

Our new issue topos 120 – Energy City – offers a broad selection of topics on the subject of urban energy.

Cover photo: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center




The latest issue of topos is all about energy. It takes a closer look at how the energy consumption of cities around the world is composed and brings hard-to-imagine dimensions into perspective. About three quarters of global primary energy is consumed by cities. But where does the energy in our urban areas come from and how is it used? These are only two of the many questions that issue 120 of topos tries to answer. For this, topos 120: Energy City lets energy experts have their say and sheds light on how selected cities are implementing their exemplary energy transition through innovative projects and initiatives. But the issue does not only look at the present. From the beginnings of household electronics to a glimpse into the far future of Mars colonization, the 120th issue of topos offers a broad selection of topics on the subject of urban energy. Get a free preview of the current issue of topos here.

Why not? In a time of multiple crises like ours, there is nothing to stop us from having another crisis on our hands. Admittedly, this crisis is not particularly new. We have been failing at it for decades and it is certainly also partly to blame for the failure of our climate protection efforts.

Two very central aspects

Yes, in this issue we are talking about the energy crisis. At the latest since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the whole world should have realised how deep the grave is that we have already dug for ourselves with a lot of fossil energy. In the course of producing this magazine issue, we had to realise that our research repeatedly led to two very central aspects. On the one hand, I am talking about the efficiency level of our solar systems and other renewable energy generation technologies, and on the other hand, about the lack of a technological solution for storing energy.

A black hole of helplessness?

Especially the big metropolises of this world struggle with these aspects. Metropolises consume so much energy that it cannot be produced on the surface of large cities. Moreover, energy is consumed there day and night and without interruption. Obsolete urban structures, dilapidated architecture and a lack of innovative technologies leave a black hole of helplessness. As Arian Schlichenmayer, one of our editors, aptly put it, we are kicking our planet in the balls day after day with a running start. With a stoic arrogance, many unfortunately still ignore the effects of our inaction. Others lose themselves in endless discussions about procedural issues. Fortunately, some of us are attached to the life and continuity of humanity.

Shifting our location

There are certainly exciting visions, studies and projects that are looking for an answer to the big energy question. In this issue, we want to concentrate on precisely those ideas. We want to focus on the visionaries and dreamers who are not satisfied with the status quo as a God-given phenomenon. Thus, we focus on a very essential quality that I do not want to deny humanity despite all the challenges that lie ahead: we are explorers. So, we try to stalk the subject area from a bird’s eye view and enjoy the fantastic photographs taken by Nasa. Once on earth, we look for and find some of the most exciting concepts and projects on the topics of energy storage and urban energy production, and then take to the skies again and even leave the planet. More precisely, over 56 million kilometres away. In this issue, we want to discover hope and new perspectives. To do so, we try to shift our location as often as possible and to focus without blinkers on the desperate situation as well as the ambitious and truly courageous approaches.

Action alone is not enough

After all, many people on earth seem to be desperate. The more one deals with the topic of energy and especially energy in urban areas, the more intensely one realises how knee-deep we are in the despair of our future generations. It is precisely for these generations that we bear responsibility here and now. Action alone has not been enough for a long time. We must act quickly and, above all, intelligently. If we solve the energy question for metropolises, we solve it for the whole world.

So this issue is intended to help us navigate the twists and turns and treacherous shoals of the energy question. We wanted to present concrete solutions and projects and discovered visions, innovations and the will to really make a difference. On a small scale, as on a large scale. For us, the topic is increasingly coming into focus and we are confident that we will discover and develop solutions.

Get the topos 120 – Energy City – here.

The previous issue of tops magazine was curated by Copenhagen. Read our article on how to Copenhagenize your city.

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