Why does a smart city need green energy?

The penetration of the latest technologies into the urban economy will require a rethinking of the sources of work and life in the city. According to Deloitte, the transition to green energy will play a major role here.

Cities occupy only 2% of the world’s land area, but they already contain the majority of the world’s population, economic activity and energy consumption. In urban planning, the concept of a “smart” city has come to the fore recently, with electronic communications and the Internet of Things (IoT) playing a major role in managing the economy.

The idea of ​​a “smart” city is closely linked to “green” energy, the latter of which contributes to creating a favorable environment for residents, Deloitte analysts emphasize. In their study “Renewable Energy for Smart Cities: Food for Thought,” they pioneered the concept of a Smart Renewable City (SRC) – a smart city with grid-independent energy from renewable sources.

The authors of the report believe that the combination of advanced technologies in urban economy and energy supply:

  • It will contribute to economic growth, as “green” energy is able to compete with traditional energy, create new jobs and promote innovation;
  • supporting an environmentally responsible sustainable economy;
  • Improving people’s quality of life by creating a healthy environment for them.

These three trends constitute the main goals facing the human-centered city of the future. Analysts at Deloitte, for their interview, note that the energy sector, in turn, must be reliable, affordable and environmentally friendly.

What does this mean in practice

Two energy sources suitable for all these needs are wind and solar energy. This industry was once expensive and useless, but now it is catching up to efficiency and accessibility with traditional energy. An important aspect: the same solar panels can and should be placed inside the city, on the roofs of houses. This leads to a radical transformation of society, the creation of a small adjacent electricity network, the transition to autonomous supply, etc.

The fundamentals of the city of the future, permeated with the Internet of Things and based on renewable sources, are already visible in major cities around the world. For example, in Paris, 18% of the electricity generated comes from renewable energy, 4.2% of which is from solar and wind energy. In London, the numbers rose to 24.6 and 10.9%, respectively, and in Hamburg – to 29.9 and 14.8%.

Some cities have already completely switched to using energy from renewable sources. But these are mainly either very small settlements (for example, Georgetown in Texas with 70 thousand inhabitants), or promising projects that are mostly found on paper (for example, the Chinese Xiong’an).

1. Green economic growth

The report’s authors note: At some point, power grid operators realize that incorporating renewable sources into a city’s economy becomes more profitable than maintaining, and even more so, building new conventional power plants. In the same Georgetown, over the 10 years since “green” energy was introduced, the kilowatt-hour cost has fallen from 11.4 to 8.5 cents. The side effect is expressed in reduced water consumption and reduced fuel cost.

Additionally, green cities are attracting innovative companies that provide high paying jobs, as is also evident in Georgetown. In such cities, scientific clusters and modern business incubators can emerge, as in Nelson Mandela Bay in South Africa and Pena in Mexico.

2. Sustainable infrastructure

Buildings and vehicles consume most of the energy in the urban economy. Accordingly, the switch to renewable energy sources is changing not only how energy is delivered, but also what these sectors are: homes have become miniature power plants that can accommodate not only one grid, but also supply it with electricity, while there are more and more cars Street electric.

Green Economy Solar panels as a step towards energy democracy

3. Quality of life

“Green” energy is mistakenly considered something purely elitist. On the one hand, in fact, solar panels and electric cars remain very expensive. On the other hand, the growth in supply and specific government support measures make it more accessible.

Over time, moving away from internal combustion engines and coal-fired power plants will lead to a healthier environment. Already, European capitals (Copenhagen, London, Paris) are planning to close the center of gasoline and diesel vehicles over the coming decades.

In addition, the conversion of homes and electric vehicles into miniature power plants will lead to the emergence of a class of so-called consumers, that is, producers and consumers. This contributes to increased autonomy, and thus self-awareness of individual companies and families.

Leave a Comment