Smart Grids & Smart Cities: Intelligent Infrastructure for Our Future
    Category: Energy Booster By : Sonia Lontoh Read : 673 Date : Saturday, September 10, 2016 - 07:44:18

    Infrastructure systems around the world are being strained due to unprecedented urbanization, continued globalization, and climate change. In addition, developing countries are struggling to build new infrastructure while developed countries must replace aging infrastructure. Between now and 2030, an estimated minimum of $50 trillion in infrastructure investment is required to fuel global development. Cities such as Amsterdam are addressing these challenges in its Amsterdam Smart City initiative, launched in 2009, which includes 79 projects collaboratively developed by local residents, government and businesses.

    A smart city should improve its quality of life through technology to improve the efficiency of services, especially for efficient transportation, intelligent buildings, and smart power grids. Many projects run on an interconnected platform through wireless devices to enhance a city’s real-time decision-making abilities. These projects can reduce traffic, save energy and improve public safety. In addition, intelligent infrastructure can be used in power and utility grids (smart grids), ensuring a reliable energy supply. 

    Today’s grids were not designed to handle growing power requirements, including renewable power sources. Smart grid technologies make it possible to modernize and adapt existing power grids to future demands. In short, a smart grid ensures reliability, resiliency and efficiency.

    1. Reliability
    The smart grid makes use of technologies that improve fault detection and allow self-healing of the grid network without the intervention of technicians, ensuring more reliable electrical supply. For example, the Amsterdam Nieuw-West 50 households will participate in the Virtual Power Plant project. By adding energy storage, the flexibility of the energy demand in neighborhoods can be put to use, closing the gap between the availability of renewable energy and actual energy demand.

    2. Resiliency
    The growing density of cities, in combination with the climate change, makes it vulnerable to heavy rainfall and storms. As a result, the city may want to handle heavy rainfall with smart grid technologies that help utilities speed outage restoration following major storm events.

    3. Efficiency
    Energy infrastructure can be improved by deploying smart grid technology. For example, in public lighting, municipalities around a city can control the switches and dimming devices without depending on one supplier. It can lessen redundancy in transmission and distribution lines, improver generator utilization and lower power prices.

    An intelligent digital infrastructure can enhance cities’ existing systems, which contributes to its economic success, livability and efficiency. Thus, “smart” starts with smart grids, using smart interconnectivity, big data analytics and two-way communications with the energy infrastructure. This same “smart” platform can be extended to city’s infrastructure, enabling such things as smart traffic lights to ease congestion, smart buildings that are more efficient, and others. The same “smart” platform can be extended to what many call the “Internet of Things,” where we connect billions of devices around the world to create a safer, better, cleaner and more sustainable way of living.