As the global electricity demand is expected to double by 2050, there is a need for cities to shift from fossil fuel consumption towards smarter energy sources. Technologies emerging are vital to help achieve this and help address environmental concerns.
Cities consume up to two-thirds of the world’s total energy. This means they emit an equal amount of carbon. Modern cities are trying to develop new ways of energy consumption that support economic growth with less impact on the environment.
As a result, the energy system has been transitioning from a centralized model of power generation to a diverse network with several sources of power. Renewable energy sources have been added to the conventional grid to create an efficient and sustainable energy system called microgrids.
These technological energy systems can supply power in remote areas and also enables the storage of electricity in different institutions and buildings.
The Manchester Microgrid project
The of Manchester has been part of the Triangulum, the European Commission’s sustainable cities project. Manchester City Council, Manchester Metropolitan University, and Manchester University conducted an assessment of energy consumption and how to reduce costs and emissions by using renewable energy in the Oxford Corridor.
Microgrid systems were developed in the section of the city. It optimized energy consumption and reduced carbon emissions in the area. The city now avoids 57,000 tonnes of carbon emissions every year.
Espoo Smart Energy
A smart power in Finland’s second-largest shopping center has also been developed. A smart microgrid has been added to the shopping complex and connected to the energy system. It also enabled electricity storage through the smart battery system feature. Smart energy is designed to reduce the country’s need to invest in power plans. The shopping center now saves €125,000 every year on its annual electricity bills. It has also reduced carbon emission by 271 tonnes.
Challenges Of Getting To 100% Renewable Energy
Lack of proper leadership politically can be a great challenge towards achieving 100% renewable energy transition. The city of Basel that has already transitioned to 100% renewable energy emphasizes leadership as an important factor in achieving clean energy. Basel says a clear vision is needed to engage with citizens and other stakeholders in the cities.
Providing clean energy in cities requires effective technology that will ensure the energy produced is enough to cover all the needs in the city. Most cities still do not have control over utilities making it hard for cities to work with them to shift to fully renewable energy. For instance, although Vancouver relies on 97% renewable power from an external utility, it cannot easily shift to 100% renewable energy.
With unsubsidized renewable energy being more cost-effective than fossil fuels, cities are investing in the sector. 570 cities are have valued renewable energy projects at $2.3 billion in 150 projects. This is part of a great shift to renewable energy that requires the development of more than 1,000 clean energy projects like electric transport and energy efficient=cy, which is worth more than $52 billion.