The urban population is estimated to expand by 2.4 billion people over the next 35 years, and there is increasing demand to move to cleaner and more efficient energy resources to meet the needs of this quickly changing population. The smart city concept has developed in response to the rapid changes happening in cities around the world. Essential to the smart city approach is the development of an integrated energy strategy, according to a new white paper from Navigant Research, “Smart Cities and the Energy Cloud.”
An integrated energy strategy will enable cities to deliver crucial improvements to their citizens in the areas of sustainability, citizen well being, and economic development. For example, city leaders recognize that while cities represent 2 percent of global land use, they are responsible for around 70 percent of the world’s energy use, so they are working in partnership with local utilities to develop ambitious energy efficiency programs through innovations in smart grid technology, demand management, renewable generation and electric vehicle adoption.
The spread of smart city technologies and policies is helping to drive fundamental changes in the energy landscape. Not only are cities the focus of extensive smart grid projects, they are also becoming increasingly proactive in setting targets for utilities to shift from fossil fuel to renewable energy.
Support for renewable generation by city authorities places increased pressure on utilities to deliver an infrastructure that can integrate these new resources in a manageable way, according to the white paper. Grid reinforcement is often required to support the integration of large amounts of renewable energy, but this can be offset by the wider use of smart grids for network management and demand management initiatives, such as automated demand response.
The energy cloud concept is transforming the traditional utility model of energy provision by creating a networked and dynamic infrastructure that incorporates demand-side generation technologies and capabilities and renewable energy sources alongside traditional assets. Such a system allows for greater choice in the manner in which energy is generated, supplied and consumed, the report explains.
The emerging vision of smart cities integrates large and small-scale energy initiatives ranging from improvements in national infrastructure through citywide energy efficiency programs to local energy generation. The white paper examines the issues facing cities and utilities as they develop the energy policies needed today and in the future.