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Smart Grids Are the Foundation for Smart Cities

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Karen Marcus's picture
Freelance Energy and Technology Researcher and Writer Final Draft Communications, LLC

In addition to serving as an Energy Central Community Manager, Karen Marcus has 25 years of experience as a content developer within the energy and technology industries. She has worked with...

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  • Feb 23, 2022
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As smart grid technology advances, so does the potential for smart city development. Smart grids will provide many of the foundational benefits needed by smart cities, including the following.

  • Reliance on new technologies like the cloud, Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and 5G
  • Grid intelligence
  • Increased interconnectedness
  • Better use of data
  • Cost- and eco-efficiency

Operators can use these digital solutions to ensure each smart city component offers greater value to the entire system. The following smart grid features enable these benefits in smart cities.

Smart Meters

Smart meters are a critical part of smart grid operations because they provide real-time data to users about their energy consumption. Such data offer critical information to the smart grid as well, creating high levels of distribution efficiency, with the ability to predict power demand and adapt accordingly within smart city environments.

User Control

In conjunction with smart meters, smart grid and smart city technology give energy users access to information that enables greater awareness of residential or business energy use. This awareness is the foundation for behavior change that can reduce energy use and costs. Such change might include adjusting personal habits or installing renewable energy technologies such as solar panels and storage systems that enable even more control.

Cybersecurity

Because the smart grid is based on interconnected digital components, each of which presents a potential attack vector, cybersecurity must be a primary concern. Experts believe smart grid attacks may be less severe but more frequent than with the existing grid. Operators must be proactive in preventing attacks that can limit operations with innovations like firewalls with intrusion detection and prevention systems. These efforts are also critical for maintaining reliable smart city operations.

Self-Healing

Smart grid technology includes remote sensors and monitoring that offer the ability to self-detect issues and correct them before they become problems that negatively impact functionality. Smart city operators with multiple tasks and responsibilities to take care of can benefit from this time-saving feature. Additionally, self-healing reduces the time and cost needed to address the fallout from avoided catastrophes.  

EV Integration

New energy technologies allow a variety of sources to exchange energy with the grid. EVs are one source that serve in this manner with vehicle-to-grid (V2G) and vehicle-to-home (V2H) capabilities, which enable EVs to give power back to the grid or to the home or business. This bidirectional charging can be set up to push or pull energy based on grid demand. EVs can also be used as backup energy sources in the event of power outages, contributing to smart city efficiency during emergencies.  

The features listed here are just a few that smart grids can offer to smart cities. Additionally, smart grids can help cities reach sustainability goals, forecast energy needs, increase electrification, and better incorporate contributions from DERs. The more smart grid technology evolves, the more smart cities can thrive.

What are your thoughts about the impact of smart grid technology on smart cities? Please share in the comments.

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