‘Smart city’ is a term which has created a lot of buzz recently, and has been embraced by the media and governments alike. Technologists are excited about the lives we could live in the connected urban metropolises of the future. But underpinning this is the opportunity for us to redesign our cities in a way that not only streamlines everything from transport to healthcare, but which also allow us to power them forward with sustainability initiatives. Renewable energy technologies should be at the forefront of smart city development, in order to create a more efficient economy for the low-carbon future. And with UN figures showing that world’s urban population is expected to surpass 6 billion by 2045, bringing with it the risk of overpopulation as well as dangerous levels of pollution and congestion, this is an enormous opportunity for policy makers, investors and innovators to transform our cities now.
Some cities have already embraced clean energy sources such as solar parks and wind turbines to become truly ‘smart’. For instance, Dubai plans to have solar panels on every rooftop by 2030, which will help to power buildings as well as a network of electric car charging stations. The cities’ authorities will be able to monitor electricity usage and generation in real time through smart meters, and so will be able to anticipate highs and lows in consumption, in order to manage reserves.