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Cities can ‘develop their own energy networks'

smart city

Cities are increasingly able to take control of their own energy future, according to a new study from Arup.

Called Innovating Urban Energy, the paper says that cities can no longer afford to rely on a centralised energy supply. It claims changes in new technology, financing innovations and political changes mean there are now more opportunities for cities to secure their own energy supplies or diversify from their existing supplies.

Technology elements that are paving the way for the change include advanced power electronics, smart metering and local generation. Not only could there be more renewables, but sources could also include district heating and hydrogen gas networks. Finance could come from areas such as bonds and crowd funding.

In terms of energy contributors, the report says the traditional lines between producers, distributers and consumers is blurring. In the future, more technology companies could enter the field, as could businesses.

Civic leaders could also take more control in terms of action on climate change, according to the report, which cites the renewed interest in municipal energy companies in Germany as evidence of cities securing their own clean energy supply.

“City leaders are increasingly understanding that if they are to continue to grow and to improve the lives of their citizens, they will need to play a more active role in securing their own stable and low emissions energy supply,” said Arup global energy leader Ian Gardner.

“It is an exciting time because there are big technological and political shifts that are giving cities the opportunity to take control. And, increasingly, for businesses there is an opportunity to become energy ‘prosumers’ – producing their own energy and even supplying cities. We are helping civic leaders and companies around the world to understand the opportunities and what will work both technically and pragmatically within their local contexts.”

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