The energy metabolism of megacities
Due to their sheer size and complexity, megacities are extreme examples in which both negative and positive aspects of urbanization co-exist and are amplified. Especially in emerging countries they are becoming the dominant paradigm of the future urbanization, representing a sustainability challenge both from the point of view of energy and resource consumption, and from the point of view of climate change adaptation and mitigation. In this paper we compare the energy metabolism in 27 of the world's megacities including details of mobile and stationary energy consumption patterns, fuels used, as well as end-use patterns and electricity generation mix. Our results show that per capita total energy consumption scales with urban population density according to a power law characterized by the universal −3/4 scaling, pointing out that compact cities are more energy efficient with respect to dispersed cities. By comparing energy sources and sectoral end use, also focusing on electricity use and generation source, we found a significant regionalization of energy metabolism, and we discuss the implication for resilience, infrastructure planning, GHG emissions, and policies for infrastructure decarbonization. The comparison of the energy metabolism can lead to a more appropriate management of energy use patterns and electricity generation mix in megacities, giving insights on strategies to improve urban energy efficiency and reducing environmental pressure of megacities.