WASHINGTON, July 12, 2013 – A group of experts gave a presentation on the role of smart cities in advancing smart grid and other energy efficient technology at the National Town Meeting on Demand Response and Smart Grid on Thursday morning.
Eugenie Birch, Chair of the Graduate Group in City Planning at the University of Pennsylvania, began the session by defining a smart city. Although the definition varies, particularly among cities that apply that label to themselves, smart cities generally utilize advanced technology, innovative land use decisions, and strategic partnerships between public and private industries, she explained.
The presenters discussed a number of benefits associated with smart cities, including sustainability, improved public services and greater economic development. Birch provided the example of Syracuse, New York, which has embraced smart city technology to entice graduates from the local university to stay, thereby attracting employers.
David Sun, Chief Scientist for Alstom Grid Network Management Solutions, added that sustainability has evolved beyond an end in itself and is now a means for further success.
“Sustainability is no longer just a model,” he said. “It will sustain itself because it has a viable business model behind it.”
Sun also discussed the impact of developments within the industry. Changes that have occurred during the last few decades have help make utilities more efficient, competitive, and more responsive to consumer needs.
Paul Centolella, Vice President of Analysis Group, laid out some of the challenges to developing smart cities. These include improving asset utilization, enhancing reliability and resilience, and integrating variable renewable resources such as wind power. Sun noted that parts of the northwest have successfully utilized wind power through demand response.
The use of smart devices in conjunction with a smart grid is a crucial next step, argued Centolella. He observed that many devices already contain chips that allow them to shift power usage without impairing performance, but they lack the necessary connections to react to peak usage periods.
Centolella spoke about the role of wireless transmissions in relaying such information to devices, which help to optimize energy efficiency and still meet consumer preferences.