A new study by Arup, released this week at the 23rd World Energy Congress, shows that cities have more power to secure their own cleaner energy supply than they realise.
Growing cities, which already account for more than 50% of global energy consumption, can no longer afford to rely on a centralised energy supply and will need to take more control to meet the rising demand.
The Arup “Innovating Urban Energy” perspective paper provides insight for the World Energy Council Scenarios Report and shows that new technologies, innovative financing mechanisms and political changes are opening up opportunities for cities to secure their own energy.
Technology drivers, such as advanced power electronics, smart metering and local generation are allowing cities to diversify their energy portfolio.
Transactive energy is shown as an approach to change the way energy is purchased and sold. This combines economic and control mechanisms to allow for a dynamic balance of supply and demand which uses value created as a key operational parameter.
It is allowing cities to develop lower cost, more stable networks capable of handling a much bigger share of renewable sources. This particularly applies to electricity, however the report shows that account needs to be taken of the other energy sectors.
A number of cities have existing energy and transport infrastructure that need integrated planning. Not all energy can sensibly arrive as electricity from renewable sources so other vectors such as district heating and hydrogen gas networks have a role to play in this integrated planning.
Importantly, these technology developments are blurring the line between producers, distributers and consumers by allowing non-traditional energy players, such as technology companies, to enter the market. Corporates are increasingly looking for opportunities to become power producers in the new urban energy rush and could become significant contributors in the future.