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Smart Cities Need Smart Energy Sources

13/05/2016 8:24 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
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As India continues to industrialize rapidly, it is entering its most energy-intensive phase of economic growth -- building new infrastructure and increasing the use of transportation. Its energy demand was nearly 700mtoe (million tonnes of oil equivalent) in 2010. According to a McKinsey report, "India: Towards Energy Independence 2030", this is expected to cross 1500mtoe by 2030. The increase in energy consumption is directly linked to the steady growth in population not only in India but also across the globe. According to the Ministry of Urban Development, it is predicted that the world's urban population will double by 2050. The urban population in India is currently 31% of the total population and it produces 60% of the country's GDP. In the next 15 years, we can expect 75% of India's GDP coming from urban areas. Thus, there is an urgent need for the nation to plan cities that can cater to such large scale urbanization.

The world could build the equivalent of one new city of nearly 1.5 million people every week for the next 40 years.

According to the United Nations' Habitat Group, the world could build the equivalent of one new city of nearly 1.5 million people every week for the next 40 years. The modern city is under pressure and is being tested in ways that have never been seen before. Globally, rising population and increased prosperity will drive up energy demand. Separate point-pressure on vital resources of energy, water and food will be the greatest in cities where demand will be the most intense. Greenhouse gas emissions, for example, will be pushed up through increased energy production and the power and transport fuel needed to produce and deliver food and treat water.

At the same time, cities are vulnerable to shocks originating from within. Building greater resilience in city planning and management systems and the delivery of services will be essential to the future well-being and prosperity of people residing in urban environments. Intelligent urban planning could trigger the transformation of the global transport system, by providing the infrastructure for cleaner cars powered by electricity, hydrogen and natural gas.

Resilient energy for smart cities

A resilient city is able to adapt to rapid change, to manage shocks and natural disasters and to respond to stresses that include climate change and other negative environmental impacts - all this while being able to provide infrastructure, development, energy and other resources to its populace. There is increasing need for cooperation and collaboration within cities to build resilience.

Changing average temperature, precipitation, demographic pattern, lifestyle and role of industries will have an effect not only on the energy demand but also affect reliability of energy resources...

Indian cities face urgent challenges to meet the growing needs of infrastructure and services that would ensure an acceptable (and in some cases desirable) standard of living and quality of life. The challenges are not only confined to providing quality and equitable accessibility of municipal services, but also relate to the resources required for ensuring the sustained availability of these services that are critical to ensure safe, healthy and viable urban life. Apart from finance, manpower, technology and managerial ability, cities would be well advised to appreciate the criticality of access to vital natural resources, namely land, water and energy sources for their continued well-being.

In Surat, the ninth largest city in India, the Surat Municipal Corporation has been pursuing sustainable technology, practices and programmes to maintain and enhance the quality and availability of civic services that are dependent on access to critical natural resources. Being located in a flood-prone zone, the city has over the past five years also made considerable efforts to address flood risk management issues through structural and non-structural interventions. Over the last decade, several initiatives for environment protection and conservation have been taken to reduce energy consumption and manage natural resources effectively.

Changing average temperature, precipitation, demographic pattern, lifestyle and role of industries will have an effect not only on the energy demand but also affect reliability of energy resources i.e. availability of the city's electricity generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure. Apart from space cooling, energy demand will be dominated by transportation and the prominent industry or agricultural sector. Any intervention to increase industrial energy efficiency will necessitate participation of a large number of multiple stakeholders. Vehicular population in most cities is likely to rise significantly.

india solar

Making cities energy resilient

The promotion of energy saving should be taken up in mission-mode. There is a need for programmes to incentivize energy conservation across various scales and activities, starting from households and going up to the level of organizations. The distribution of LEDs at lower cost is a great effort, but it needs to be supplemented by guiding consumers on energy saving through the use of energy-efficient appliances. Energy-efficient practices should be incentivized in construction, manufacturing, transportation and all areas of human activity. Better technologies in illumination, transportation and conservation of power can go a long way in mitigation.

. There is a need for programmes to incentivize energy conservation across various scales and activities, starting from households and going up to the level of organizations.

Solar energy use should be encouraged for all establishments with floor area of more than 300sqm. Some of this has already been enabled by the government. What is essential is the need to increase the share of renewable energy so that the energy demands of essential services can be mostly met by the alternate sources, even though relevant technologies are currently priced high. The use of gas along with solar and wind energy, which is less than 2% at present, currently is very crucial. This will need bringing about new policies and changes in regulation. Additionally, adoption of load-management techniques, tariff restructuring and improved metering arrangements to minimize power thefts/losses incentivizing energy savings and use of energy efficient gadgets also need to be implemented. For example, Surat has installed sludge-based energy generation as well as wind power based energy generation.

'Climate-proofing' infrastructure is necessary to ensure the supply of energy in times of floods, higher temperatures and greater levels of precipitation. For this purpose, climate proofing in off-city installations is also essential. Climate risk screening of all energy infrastructure is necessary, which should include risks on inputs (water, wind, actual infrastructure including generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure), as well as peak demands under extreme weather conditions. Also required will be review and augmentation of safety factors of infrastructure for all installations in climate-risk-prone areas.

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