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CITy Voices: Councillor Ramsey Milne

Interview with Councillor Ramsey Milne, Aberdeen, Scotland

Why did Aberdeen choose to participate in the CITyFiED project, and how does it fit in with your energy and environment strategy? 

Aberdeen as an ambitious, visionary city recognises the need to learn from others and use this learning within Aberdeen to improve the services we offer to our citizens and visitors. We have also learned from our involvement in previous projects that European cooperation is a valuable tool for sharing of best practices, and to help us to develop common solutions for shared issues.

The Sustainable Development team at Aberdeen City Council have recently written our Sustainable Energy Action Plan, which will be launched in 2016, and sets out how we will reduce our emissions on the pathway to 2050. The CITyFiED network offers the opportunity to gather information from demonstration projects whilst collaborating within communities of interest, covering topics that can be made replicable across the globe including digital connectivity, energy efficiencies and low carbon projects.

What smart city measure or energy solutions would you like to share with the CITyFiED community? 

There are a number of measures and energy solutions we could share with the community, including insights into:

  • The development of district heating across Aberdeen – in 2002 Aberdeen City Council created ‘Aberdeen Heat & Power’, a not-for-profit independent Company, to develop Combined Heat and Power Schemes for the city. Going forward, it is one of our aspirations to create a municipal energy company. Other future plans are to have multiple CHP and Heat Stations around the City linked into one city-wide network. Aberdeen is also planning to develop a Energy from Waste Plant where 20mw of energy will be tied into the extended CHP network.
  • The expansion of our electric vehicle and car club network – having started with 11 cars in 9 locations, the Aberdeen car club now has around 40 cars, 1000 members and operates in over 30 locations across the city. We are keen to look at ways of expanding the reach of the car club and maximising the use of existing vehicles.
  • The Sustainable Energy Action Plan journey – As a member of the Covenant of Mayors we are committed to carbon dioxide emissions and finding alternative sources of energy across the city.
  • Digital Place– Aberdeen City Council aims to facilitate the establishment of a Digital Innovation framework across the City utilising £1.58 million of capital funding from the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Superconnected Cities Programme (SCCP). The programme delivered under the Accelerate Aberdeen Strategy aims to make Aberdeen a beacon location for the development and deployment of digital technology.
  • Solar PV array on public buildings – As part of Aberdeen City Council’s commitment to reduce emissions, 90 solar PV systems have been installed on public buildings in the city. These buildings include sheltered housing accommodation, leisure facilities and community centres.
  • In March 2015 a Hydrogen Strategy for the Aberdeen City Region 2015-2025 was launched which provides a detailed 10 year strategy outlining the key actions required to ensure Aberdeen remains at the forefront of hydrogen technology. Aberdeen City Council believes hydrogen offers an exciting opportunity to develop and diversify the energy industry in the north east of Scotland, maximising the capacity and value of renewable energy and giving greater energy security.

Name a challenge you think fellow cities and project consortium members could help you overcome…

Aberdeen welcomes learning from others and can think of a number of challenges where further guidance would be beneficial including:

  • Over-coming urban sprawl and addressing densification of the populous as a way of combatting emissions reduction.
  • Emissions from road transports: reduce dependency on cars and increase the share of walking, cycling and car sharing for instance in the modal share as a way to reduce air pollution in the city centre
  • Deployment of low emission vehicles in the city: how to encourage people and companies to make the shift from conventional fuel vehicles to low emission vehicles
  • Quay side renewables and dealing with the fact that many vessels aren’t compatible with quay side systems.
  • How to engage the private domestic sector with energy efficiency and see results.
  • Community power case studies in an urban setting.
  • How digital connectivity and Internet of Everything has been used to create smarter cities and enable efficiencies.

Aberdeen's most ambitious smart city or energy efficiency target? 

Our Sustainable Energy Action Plan is still being developed, however there are indications from the scenario modelling that Aberdeen could witness a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030 (compared to a 2005 baseline) if it implements a number of national and local interventions. We’re hopeful that our SEAP will gain full Council approval in December this year and that such targets will be agreed. Meeting the targets will only be achieved through collaborative working across all sectors, high level commitment across the city, gaining funding and implementing innovative solutions to a challenging problem.


19 November 2015