Advanced Energy Perspectives

ADVANCED ENERGY NOW: Smarter Grid Technologies Make for Smart Cities

Posted by Maria Robinson

Jun 22, 2015 4:52:52 PM

This post is one in a series of feature stories on trends shaping advanced energy markets in the U.S. and around the world, drawn from Advanced Energy Now 2015 Market Report, which was prepared for AEE by Navigant Research. 
Yokohama, Japan implemented a large-scale pilot project focused on energy management at the household, district, and city level from 2010 through 2014.

Cities are a focal point for some of the most profound economic, social, and technological issues facing the world today, not least of which is the need for cleaner and more efficient energy resources to meet the demands of an urban population that will expand by 2.4 billion people over the next 35 years. Numerous cities are now investigating new forms of energy delivery and management spanning all aspects of city operations – fundamentally changing the way energy is generated, distributed, and integrated within city limits.

Electricity networks are at the heart of a complex web of interdependencies. After all, power failures can have dramatic impacts on water, sewage, health, communication, and transportation systems. At the same time, the kind of technologies that make energy management and delivery smarter and more reliable in the face of hazards also contribute to an increasingly connected set of infrastructure services for city residents.

Smart grid investments are already helping utilities better cope with severe weather events and other outages, with densely populated urban areas among the biggest beneficiaries. Self-healing grid networks and automated demand response, for example, can mitigate the impact of such events on the network, while more accurate prediction of an event and its likely consequences enables crews dispatch to vulnerable areas earlier. Distributed generation will also play a growing role in the ability of cities to deal with events like Hurricane Sandy, which devastated the northeastern United States in 2012. New York, for example, is looking to increase use of distributed generation alongside other grid innovations that will provide an energy infrastructure better able to cope with future events of that scale.

An important aspect of the smart city concept is resilience – the ability of cities and communities to withstand or bounce back from catastrophic events, as well as manage the ongoing challenges facing urban communities. Resilience requires an assessment of each city’s complex and interconnected infrastructure and institutional systems that span the physical, economic, institutional, and sociopolitical environment. Cities are now becoming much more involved in resilience planning and need to work with utilities and other agencies to develop integrated plans for emergency response.

Some of the most advanced examples of this thinking are being developed in Japan. The county’s interest in more sustainable and resilient energy systems has been accelerated by the energy crisis resulting from the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami. The Yokohama Smart City Project (YSCP) is a good example of the vision being developed by the Japanese government, city authorities, and major suppliers. YSCP is a large-scale pilot project focused on energy management at the household, district, and city level from 2010 through 2014. Participants – which include 4,000 households in a variety of housing types, as well as four office buildings, two commercial buildings, and a large factory – are receiving energy management systems (EMS). In addition to providing new infrastructure, the project is testing demand management policies for residential and commercial customers to reduce peak power demand. Project partners include the city of Yokohama; local power, water, and gas utilities; major telecom NTT; real estate developer Mitsui Fudosan; and Nissan Motor Co. Many Japanese and international smart grid device and service providers are contributing, including Accenture, Hitachi, NEC, Panasonic, Sharp, Sony, and Toshiba. Other cities with similar initiatives include Charlotte, NC; Worcester, MA; Amsterdam; London; Sydney, Australia, and several others. (See table below.)

From the utilities’ perspective, tying smart meter and smart grid deployments into a broader Smart City project has several advantages, including closer engagement with communities, individual consumers, and businesses; unique opportunities for testing on a citywide scale a range of advanced energy technologies, including distributed renewable energy, EV charging, and demand management; chances to offer new revenue generating energy services to city agencies as well as residents and businesses. Smart street lighting systems (5% revenue growth nationally from 2013 to 2014) and EV charging networks (31% growth) are just some of the areas where utilities are well positioned to help cities meet ambitious energy and infrastructure goals.





The Netherlands

Amsterdam Smart City

Numerous energy and smart grid related projects including City-zen which spans smart distribution networks, smart homes, building efficiency programs, waste management, and demand management


North Carolina


As part of a cross-sector collaboration aiming to make Charlotte the most sustainable city in the United States, Duke Energy, Verizon, and other partners are working on the Smart Energy Now project, which aims to reduce energy consumption in Charlotte’s uptown office buildings using smart grid technologies


United Arab Emirates

Dubai Smart City

As part of the broader smart city program, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority id deploying rooftop PV, smart meters, and smart grid technologies as well as EV charging infrastructure.


The Netherlands

PowerMatching City

A pilot to create a smart energy system and a total concept smart grid deployment that also involves automatic aggregated control of end-user systems.




An extensive smart grid development project to enable energy optimization at the neighborhood level. Project partners include EDG, ERDF, Alstom, Schneider Electric, Bouygues Telecom, and Microsoft.




Low Carbon London

A £40 million ($48 million) smart grid and energy efficiency project led by local distribution operator UK Power Networks. The project is looking at a range of issues, including the role of smart meters, EV charging, smart distribution networks, and renewable energy generation.



Smart Electric Lyon

A consortium of 20 partners led by EDF is delivering smart energy solutions to around 25,000 households in the Greater Lyon region.



Smartcity Malaga

A 5-year smart-grid demonstration project led by Endesa that launched in 2008 and was completed in 2013. The project included smart meter, smart grid, energy storage, and EV charging deployments as well as street lighting improvements.



Smart Grid, Smart city

A $100 million demonstration project that deployed smart electric meters and other energy monitoring and management technologies to around 17,000 homes and tested a variety of smart grid programs in the Newcastle and Sydney area of New South Wales from 2010 to 2014



Aspen Smart city

A €40 million ($55 million) smart city/smart grid project launched in October 2013; collaboration between Siemens and the utility Wiener Stadtwerke that plans to support a community of up to 20,000 people by 2030, including living and working environments



Smart Energy Solutions

A program led by National Grid in cooperation with the city of Worcester and the state of Massachusetts to deploy 15,000 smart meters in the city as part of an energy management program alongside smart grid upgrades to the distribution network.



Yokohama Smart City Project (YSCP)

A large-scale pilot project focused on energy management at the household, district, and city level from 2010 through 2014.

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