27 July 2022

Situated in the North of Sweden, Skellefteå is one of the highest cities in the Swedish Lapland and subarctic region. From the costal to the forest life and wildlife, Skellefteå can offer any type of adventure. The Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC) recently met with the city to understand its progress on the Green economy and local green deals thematic track.

Sustainable opportunities

Gustaf Ulander, from the International Unit of the City of Skellefteå and local project manager for ICC, highlighted the projects of the city. The international unit has several functions in the city – mainly concerning international issues and externally funded development projects. Mr Ulander focuses on projects that are connected to sustainable development which is how he came to be involved with the ICC project. Skellefteå’s participation in ICC came from the need to develop a sustainable programme named ‘Sustainable Skellefteå’, so they naturally oriented their participation toward the Green economy and local green deals thematic track.

In recent years, the city of Skellefteå experienced unprecedented growth which was mainly due to the establishment of the Northvolt battery factory – which brought employment and migration to the city. Thus, the city had to quickly develop and adapt its capacities.

The work of the city of Skellefteå within the ICC follows the 2030 sustainable plan set up by the city, which has two main areas of interest.

1. Sustainable and diverse environment

Skellefteå is already known for its green offerings such as its electricity, with its Municipal Power Company being 100% renewable. The goal of this focus area is therefore to further develop the work with sustainable construction, sustainable exploitation of land and renewable and green energy.

2. Overcoming distance

The large size of the Skellefteå municipality, which covers almost 10,000 km² of land, brings several challenges - especially in the transportation sector. Therefore, it is important to develop sustainable transport systems to cover most of the municipality while trying to minimise the impact on the planet.

Growing municipality

Considering the rapid growth of the municipality, its housing offerings were forced to adapt just as quickly. To do so the city had to work on the parking in buildings and redefine what was currently available. This led to the Multifunctional Parking Complex project. The challenge here was striking a balance between reducing the number of parking spots to create a residential area and offering parking spots to current residents. They had to find a balance and to develop the public transportation offer to help people in their daily commute.

Developing this concept, they shifted towards the realisation of mobility hubs to connect residents between the different mode of transportation. As the municipality of Skellefteå is very broad, there are several small city centres that need to be connected to the main city centre. To do so, the municipality redesigned the transportation plan and is integrating autonomous shuttles to connect smaller areas to the main transportation lines. This project goes beyond the scope of the ICC but is a great example of how cities can use innovation to help the green transition.

“International connections are very important in project such as the ICC”

Being part of the ICC was valuable for Skellefteå because it helped the city to achieve a higher level with their sustainable project. This was mainly thanks to the connection with other cities the initiative offered – such as through the peer review session that helped the city to see its own areas of improvement. Whilst the projects Skellefteå developed during the ICC are not yet running, they are far more advanced than they would be if they had done it on their own.

The ICC praises Skellefteå’s progress already and looks forward to seeing the implementation of the projects.