The Smart Grid of a Smart City

The big challenge of future cities is to mitigate the urban footprint in order to reduce the impact of climate change and global warming. The concept of smart city implies not only a transformation in services management, but also the global connection of citizens and companies through smart devices providing a constant data flow. The objective is to optimize energy grids to reach an efficient consumption and a sustainable mobility. An irresponsible growth based on wasting energy leads to an environmental disaster.

According to Pierre Cuneo, the Strategy, Research & Technology Director at Thales – developer of electronic solutions, technologies and systems –, a smart city is the urban development model that uses information technologies in a more intensive and applied way, not only to connect different components of the urban management, but also to further involve citizens with their cities and services offered by them.

Within the context of the smart city, a wide range of players, contributions, and interests interact, attempting to manage public services, mobility, energy, and the water cycle through wastewater treatment. All of these are crucial aspects of urban living that involve processes managing large quantities of data. Data treatment, its extrapolation and the implementation of conclusions require a technological infrastructure that speeds decision-making process up and strengthens storage capacity, which is channeled through cloud computing and big data.

According to Amazon Web Services Spain Director Miguel Alava, citizens’ life is improved by data analysis and treatment in the cloud. Today, most of the cities implement smart solutions. The most innovative applications are usually found in urban centers aiming at improving and updating their management systems, in contrast to planned cities such as Songdo (South Korea) and Masdar (Abu Dhabi). In fact, the theory of smart cities diverges from cities developed throughout the lines of a central computer to something more similar to a grid or the web itself. Town planners in Amsterdam have designed suburbs as the location of a smart grid, linked to the general infrastructure of the city, but managing supply and demand in an intuitive manner. This grid saves energy while developing and improving the city’s energy infrastructure.

Chicago will be one of the first cities to install urban sensors to monitor air quality, rainfall and wind, noise levels, traffic, and artificial lighting intensity. Phillips’s CityTouch project, a technology the company is already testing in cities like Prague and some London’s peripheral neighbors, is a smart lighting management system for streetlights. It provides grid-connected lighting solutions, allowing cities to actively monitor their public lighting systems, including night environment. Thus, local governments can adequately light the busiest streets, reduce intensity in zones where nobody goes by at a certain time or increase it due to certain climate conditions. CityTouch uses the cloud as a technological infrastructure to run the system and offers value from a large amount of data collected by sensors installed in streetlights.

In terms of electricity, the need to save and the inclusion of renewables prevail for an optimum use of investments guaranteeing the efficiency of the system. It also comes to meeting the EU objectives for 2020, compelling countries to reduce greenhouse gases by 20 percent compared with 1990 levels; increasing energy efficiency by reducing demand by 20 percent compared with the forecast by that date, and producing 20 percent of the energy from renewable sources.

The EU plan involves the development of the electric power distribution of smart grids focused on two functionalities. On the one hand, telemanagement, which is real-time remote monitoring of end-users’ consumption. This makes it possible for utilities to know users’ habits and to render a customized offer. On the other hand, active demand management that allows companies to calibrate end-users’ loads according to a protocol, certain priorities and some rate benefits agreed by both parties. This modality enables optimizing client’s consumption based on the observed behavior to a comfort range defined by the user and other additional references, like for example, meteorological conditions.

The transformation of the energy model is possible if citizens, companies, and administrations work together, as happens with Malaga’s smart city project, sponsored by Endesa, which pursues a self-sufficient urban lighting model by using solar photovoltaic and wind energy.

The smart grid envisages the electric grid as a flexible, automated and integrated infrastructure which includes centralized control, diagnosis, repair, and telemanagement. Users are able to control the consumption with a connected mobile device.

Another point of support is electromobility via projects such as ZeM2ALL or Green eMotion, with a fleet of electric vehicles providing sustainable mobility and turning Malaga into a real scene of electric mobility through the implementation of new services like EV’s reload management, Vehicleto- grid (V2G) systems, and quick charging stations located in strategic zones of the city. All this connected through a control center.

Load More Related Articles
Load More By Energía 16
Load More In News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Check Also

Vestas: A greener economy

By Juan Emilio Ballesteros 08/03/2018 Despite strong competition in the sector, Vestas ear…