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Ramboll points the way to low-carbon energy supply in the city of Cambridge

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By Isidore McCormack, April 23, 2018

City of Cambridge releases results of Ramboll’s Low Carbon Energy Supply Strategy study. Cambridge is among the first U.S. cities to move to tactical implementation of carbon neutrality as part of its Net Zero Action Plan.

The City of Cambridge, Massachusetts, has released the results of a Low Carbon Energy Supply Strategy (LCESS) study conducted by Ramboll. The study furthers the city’s Net Zero Action Plan, which provides a roadmap for reaching carbon-neutrality in buildings by mid-century.

A leader in city-wide sustainability planning, the City engaged Ramboll to conduct a Low Carbon Energy Supply Strategy study identifying how Cambridge can transition its energy supply away from fossil-fuel-based sources and toward low- or zero-carbon sources. The City selected Ramboll due to its extensive energy system design experience in European cities with an emphasis on district heating and cooling.

Cambridge has long been committed to climate change preparedness, greenhouse gas reduction, and city-wide sustainability planning,” said Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale. “The Low Carbon Energy Supply Strategy study will help us advance the goal of reaching carbon neutrality by mid-century.”  

As part of the LCESS study, Ramboll analysed Cambridge’s existing energy use and supply sources across the city, examined the possibilities for future low-carbon supply, anticipated challenges, and suggested ways to overcome them to reach carbon neutrality. Ramboll developed a city-wide emissions and cost model to assess the business-as-usual scenario for the City’s energy supply against three potential scenarios – electrification, electrification with district heating and cooling, district heating and cooling with renewable energy supply sources – between now and 2040.

The study suggests a series of solutions and pathways for how to proceed, which can be used as a template to build regional solutions for achieving a low-carbon energy supply. 

“Key conclusions include the importance of individual building electrification coupled with district energy systems and the need for regional collaboration to accomplish the changes necessary to achieve carbon neutrality. The study also demonstrates that decarbonisation of the energy supply for Cambridge buildings will require a combination of approaches over time”, said Ramboll’s Project Manager Isidore Mc Cormack.

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