Smart Cities and the Energy Transformation

In an article for Public Utilities Fortnightly, Navigant says accelerated urbanization and an Energy Cloud future mean opportunities for utilities and smart cities to drive innovation

Urbanization is accelerating, driving increased momentum for the development of smart cities. At the same time, an energy transformation is underway that’s ushering new technologies, business models, and value streams toward an Energy Cloud future. These changes, Navigant says, are creating opportunities for utilities, cities, and other stakeholders to come together to create new urban energy systems and solutions.

In an article for Public Utilities Fortnightly, Jan Vrins, leader of Navigant’s global Energy practice, along with Eric Woods, research director at Navigant, and Marcel Volkerts, associate director at Ecofys, a Navigant company, examine how utilities can work with cities to shape energy’s future.

“The emerging vision is of a smart city that integrates large- and small-scale energy initiatives and solutions, including major infrastructure investments, citywide improvements in energy efficiency, and DER. In the process, cities will become clusters of smart energy communities that can exploit the benefits of new energy systems,” according to the article. “To achieve this, cities and communities will need partners to develop and manage this complex network of energy innovations, services, and resources. These requirements offer immense opportunities to utilities as they help cities drive productivity improvement and economic development from energy, transportation, and technology innovation.”

In the article, Navigant shares five ways utilities can establish their own place in new urban ecosystems.

  • Strong leadership: Utilities need to be engaged in local smart city stakeholder groups and leadership teams and participate as active players in their development.
  • A focus on local priorities and strengths: Utilities need to work with cities to define a future energy road map embedded in local realities. They also need to demonstrate how energy-related services are connected to a wide range of city priorities such as social inclusivity, economic development, and environmental improvement.
  • Community engagement: Utilities have a unique connection to all city residents, which could provide a strong basis for furthering community goals as well as helping utilities improve and redefine their customer relationships.
  • Developing a new collaborative ecosystem: Utilities should be key players in emerging smart city networks and act as catalysts for new types of collaboration in the energy sphere.
  • A data-driven transformation: Energy data is a valuable element in any city data platform, and utilities should be proactive players in shaping new data exchanges and markets.
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