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Copy, paste: Duplicating smart energy cities across the globe

Smart grid demonstration projects worldwide have shown how the energy landscape could look like and how energy users can change into producing consumers (prosumers). This is not only nice to know; it’s essential to apply the lessons learned when making the next step: designing smart energy cities.

The Pecan Street project in Austin, Texas (US) is designed as a smart (energy) city with about 1,000 citizens involved. Some of them are net energy producers earning money from their solar panels instead of paying their utility—and they use that in a smart way. As an example, Pecan Street found that it’s better for the grid if the solar panels face west, not south which is more common. The reason for this is that their solar panels now are catching the most sunlight and generating the most electricity at the very moment in late afternoon when power usage is highest. Test have started to charge electric vehicles with solar power during the day and deliver electricity at night to power houses in this project for free.

smart cities 2PowerMatching City has been running for about six years and is starting its next phase called “PowerMatching City to the people,” aimed at 500 to a few thousands of citizens in Groningen, the Netherlands. The concept is planned to be duplicated in Arnhem, the Netherlands (another Dutch city) as well. This project also includes all kinds of high-tech devices and smart services. As in Pecan Street, the participants are getting more and more excited as the project continues. For more details see www.pecanstreet.org and www.powermatchingcity.nl. More or less, similar types of projects can be found in several European countries—see also my recent blog: Can cities become islands?—as well as in Japan, Korea, and other parts of the world.

To make large-scale rollouts more attractive we need to find ways to standardise solutions and create interoperable uses of various devices, in ways of exchanging data. Ideally, you would like to copy the concept of one smart energy city in the US to another one in Europe, and vise versa. How can we make that happen? A number of companies and universities in Texas (US), the Netherlands, and Belgium have come up with the Triple A idea: virtually linking Austin, Amsterdam, and Antwerp to each other—a smart grid evolution with several hundreds of thousands participants. This should result in a system of systems design combining functional IT, telecom, and the physical energy infrastructures. In the mean tim,e seven Dutch companies are developing a market control mechanism for decentralised energy markets, the Universal Smart Energy Framework. This will be an open source tool, becoming available in 2015.

Pecan Street has made its database freely available and is expanding its project to other US cities, including San Diego and Boulder, Colorado. The copy, paste process is starting to duplicate across the globe.

1 Comments Add your comment
Avatar Bridget McEwen says:

I live in the San Diego community where Pecan Street is collecting data on energy use. As a community participant, it is quite interesting to learn and understand what appliances use the most energy, and challenges you to reduce or think of alternative ways to use different forms of energy. It is refreshing to live in a community where intellect and innovation drive change.

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