Four smart energy schemes in four smart cities

Written by Elena Collins on 15 May 2013

It is well known fact that cities across the globe are expanding at an alarming rate. Over 50% of the world’s population now live in cities and the UN estimates by 2030 there will be over two billion new urban residents worldwide. Whilst cities aim to become more sustainable, it is now necessary for the built environment to take another approach: To become resilient. Cities need to take action against the environmental, economic and social shocks that they face each day. But how can this be achieved?

Becoming ‘Smart’ with energy has be a major focus for many cities. Energy consumption will increase around the world in coming years, by at least 60 percent to about 37,000 terawatt hours (TWh) in 2030. Cities already account for over two-thirds of global power demand. New projects to manage the demand for electricity as the population grows are being adopted worldwide. Here is a collection of innovative smart energy schemes.

San Diego, USA

Smart City San Diego and the city Mayor Jerry Sanders unveiled last winter the completed Smart City San Diego Solar-to-EV Project – a 90-kilowatt solar photovoltaic canopy that directly charges electric vehicles (EVs) in the San Diego Zoo car park.  Smart City San Diego is a collaboration between San Diego Gas & Electric, City of San Diego, GE, UC San Diego and CleanTECH San Diego. The private and public sector partnership drives projects forward that improve the region’s energy independence, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and assert San Diego as a clean energy leader. 

The Solar-to-EV Project harnesses energy from the sun to directly charge plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), store solar power for future use and provide renewable energy to the electrical grid.  One of the first of its kind in the country, the project incorporates 10 solar canopies producing 90 kilowatts (kW) of electricity – enough energy at peak capacity to power 59 homes – as well as five EV charging stations.  Using new battery technology, a 100-kW energy storage system is charged by the solar canopies and used to offset power demands on the grid to charge the vehicles.  When the battery is full, the excess solar energy that is generated is put onto the electric grid to improve reliability and benefit the surrounding community. 

Yokohama, Japan

Research will commence this summer in Yokohama focusing on demand response for large commercial buildings and on dynamic pricing for residential electricity in Kitakyushu, and Keihanna and Toyota City. The researchers want to examine the best way to incorporate batteries and vehicle charging stations with the power grid. 

Home Energy Management Systems will be installed in over 1,500 households to analyze differences in consumer customs with the use of Critical Peak Pricing. The results will be used for controlling demand in the future. The project is expected to reach beyond 1,500 households later this year, heralding the start of the country's largest demand response verification experiment. All the findings will be made public. Residents will be able to discover the electricity rates, which will enable them to save electricity by matching their customs to the cost of electricity.

Amsterdam New-West

Amsterdam, Holland

The Amsterdam New West district contains approximately 40.000 households, of which around 10.000 are served by Alliander’s new smart grid. New West has a high penetration of smart meters and contains the largest amount of solar panels in Amsterdam. To align current developments and further ambitions in the field of sustainable power supply in New West, this district has been chosen for the construction of the first smart grid in the Netherlands.

The intelligent electricity network contains additional computers and sensors placed in the grid. As such current and voltage are monitored continuously to provide more accurate monitoring and control functions. In the past these functions weren’t available at this level. The smart grid provides cheaper options to facilitate the energy transition and latest developments.  For the consumer the benefits include: The reduction of the number and duration of power outages and better opportunity to feed consumer-produced electricity back to the grid. There will also be increased capability to support the integration of electric-powered vehicles, prevention of large price increases for electricity transmission
and the possibility of active participation in a sustainable energy supply.

Sete Lagoas, Brazil

Cemig, Brazil’s largest power company launched, at end of 2012, the Cities of the Future project designed to assess the capability and benefits of smart grids. The pilot will take place in Sete Lagoas, home to 200,000 people.  Cemig, which serves more than 7 million customers in 774 municipalities, has partnered with to conduct a 1,500-unit pilot leveraging the proven Echelon Energy Control Networking Platform and Control Operating System (COS) software as part of the Cities of the Future project.

The venture is intended to demonstrate the efficacy of smart grid and the potential benefits of expanding it across the whole of the company's concession area. Cemig's total investment to 2013, which includes implementing and developing the infrastructure needed to cater for new technologies, stands at R$45m.

The increase in the adoption of smart grids evidently shows its increase in popularity and desire from cities to create smart energy infrastructure. The next critical step is to move small-scale projects and pilot schemes to scaling and adoption.

Categories: Energy and water