There’s a lot of focus now on climate and energy, because of the Paris meetings. It also has its impact on (smart) cities: by keeping their ‘energy-households’ under a healthy focus, cities can become durably smarter. When watching all the data and graphs on this subject, it shows that about one-third of all the energy can be assigned to mobility. It takes a lot of energy to transport people and goods. The other big energy consumer is the urban area: 40 till 50 % is related to this!
The graph below, with all the figures for whole Europe in 2012, shows a picture that is popping up constantly – even the energy use in the US and in China shows a similar image. Also, on a smaller scale – local governments – this is roughly the picture.
In my opinion it means that a world can be gained by actively pursuing green sustainable energy. Fortunately a lot of cities are participating in this already: it is starting to become a common policy with a lot of beautiful examples all over.
However, there doesn’t seem to be a clear approach to or a clear strategy behind this policy. There appears to be a knot of different projects and initiatives, but what is the common denominator of all of them? In my opinion it is very useful to approach smart energy from three related bearers.
- The first one is sustainable generation (green and durable). This bearer is supported in numerous projects and through multiple policies throughout the world, next to plenty in the Netherlands as well.
- The second is storage. This bearer comes to view more regularly in cities and in many different projects. I read a great article the other day that in the US the storage of energy is increasing fast. Also in the Netherlands beautiful projects are taking place, like for instance in Lombok Utrecht, Amsterdam Nieuw-West and on the Island Pampus near Amsterdam.
- The third bearer is the right division: the smart distribution of all the available stored energy.
This third bearer seems to be underexposed in all the examples that I seem to find nowadays. Green energy is mainly stored locally at the moment, or is returned to the main energy net. If my quick observations are correct this means a lost opportunity.
If the power network is rearranged, there will be the opportunity to connect small power networks with the big ones. For the local inhabitants and companies, it means, apart from flexibility (own choice of green power) a guaranty that there will be always energy, even if power problems arise locally. Power companies are given a chance to create a more fossil generation independency (also regarding to the associated national and international geopolitics). But also a chance to be able to offer a ‘power guaranty’ by connecting all the small power-networks together. This is comparable to the build-up of the internet.
I believe that, especially by reasoning from all three bearers, an urban ‘energy-household’ can be grown which can be both green and durable on the long run.