Smart Green Cities

A plan for the future with stepping stones to get there

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Albert van den Noort Albert van den Noort
Head of Section
Smart Green Energy Cities
Energy is the largest contributor of emissions globally and cities already account for three quarters of energy consumption and 70% of CO2 emissions. However, as renewables penetration grows, smaller generation technologies continue to reduce in cost and smaller storage technologies mature, there is an opportunity for cities to reap the social and environmental benefits that a distributed energy model can offer them, while also meeting their climate change objectives and becoming more resilient. At DNV GL, we are helping city leaders to achieve this now by working with them, both to develop future frameworks and plans and help deliver innovative technological solutions that provide a stepped approach to getting there.

Smart grid prioritisation will reduce emissions

As well as improving performance, reliability and controllability, moving to a smarter grid will reduce emissions by allowing greater integration of renewables and more efficient use of the energy they produce, integration of smart vehicles which can act as storage devices to reduce transmission losses and promote cleaner transport and the introduction of demand response mechanisms to reduce demand.

A plan for the future with stepping stones to get there

While there will be new cities created from scratch e.g. Masdar, most Smart Green Cities will evolve from those that already exist. Their transformation will require a stepped approach with consideration for the built environment and societal structures that already exist. While long-term planning is crucial, it must include identification and prioritisation of the steps which need to be taken from now to the future to realised success. There are many cities already with real projects underway in this respect.

Extreme weather events will increase so plan for them

Both climatologists and analysis suggest that the volume of extreme weather events will increase and so cities will have to be resilient to them. Their high population density and reliance on infrastructure, and energy infrastructure in particular, mean that serious disruption could have a large impact very quickly. Increasing a city’s resilience requires understanding the risks associated with events, in order to adapt infrastructure to mitigate them.

Communication and collaboration are key

Achieving a Smart Green City requires significant collaboration across all stakeholders. End-users of services must buy-in to concepts for a successful outcome. Service providers will need a shared focus on the broader (rather than their own) opportunity and be able to speak in layman’s terms. New, innovative technology will need to be open source for easy connectivity to other systems and providers will need to prove it is robust. While each city’s approach will be slightly different, national and global collaboration are vital to develop standards and best practice.

Green energy cities
Communication and collaboration
extreme weather


PowerMatching City
‘PowerMatching City’ is a smart grid pilot project and living laboratory that is evolving into a Smart Green City project. The first phase of the project commenced in 2007 and created an integrated smart grid solution, supporting 25 houses in the City of Groningen, in the Netherlands, which were equipped with small renewable energy generators, smart appliances, electric vehicles and smart meters. The second phase includes 40 households and is focused on the development and demonstration of business models for new services, including demand response pricing mechanisms. The objective is to develop infrastructure, information communication systems and business models to create a scaleable solution that can be rolled out much more widely.

The Universal Smart Energy Framework Foundation aims to develop specifications and guidelines to support the development of smart energy products, services and solutions which will both future-proof the energy market and enable large-scale deployment of smart energy grids globally. We are one of five companies that founded the foundation which, through co-operation agreements brings together energy suppliers, network operators, electrical equipment manufacturers, consultancies and ICT companies, all working collaboratively to achieve this.

City-zen aims to develop and demonstrate Zero Energy Cities with a central role for citizens. 23 partners are working together to achieve a future-proof grid, innovative heat and cold solutions and energy efficient buildings. In the cities of Amsterdam and Grenoble, existing buildings are being retrofitted for energy efficiency, smart grids are being developed and heat grids improved and expanded in conjunction with local residents.

WBCSD’s project Zero Emission Cities
Electrifying cities towards zero emissions is part of a broader project led by the WBCSD. Multiple partners are working together to define methodology and develop a toolkit of technology solutions and policy requirements which will ultimately result in an implementation framework to support increased electrification and improved energy efficiency in cities, therefore reducing CO2 emissions. Initially implemented in conjunction with stakeholders in five cities, the aim is then to extend the project to a further fifteen cities.

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