Climate emergency is the greatest driver behind the making of sustainable smart cities. With the arrival of the 21st century’s third decade, there are multiple green goals that cities need to achieve. As the time is passing so is the ‘period of opportunity’ to limit climate change.
Smart cities around the world are focusing on switching to the use of renewable energy in multiple manners. With that, the efforts are also being seen in improving energy efficiency and cutting the CO2 emissions.
Not to mention, all these efforts need to go hand in hand to achieve energy-saving goals. And there is also the responsibility of smart cities to become zero-carbon economies. Hence, to help cities learn from each other, we have explored four beautiful energy-saving initiatives.
Future Living Berlin
On the first of July 2020, Panasonic announced the commencement initiative called the ‘Future Living Berlin’. With this project, the company is introducing its world’s first of a kind energy-saving solution for residential buildings. The project as part of Panasonic’s more large-scale smart city initiatives will focus on decarbonization of society.
Future Living Berlin in Germany brings together the essence of green, sustainable, digital and connected living. The company is going to install smart energy solutions. These consist of Panasonic’s highly efficient air-to-water heat pumps, solar panels, and storage batteries. All of this will be integrated into an intelligent and efficient energy management system.
Panasonic has put 60 years of its heating and cooling expertise with decades in PV and battery solutions into this project. This is as stated by Junichi Suzuki, Chairman and CEO of Panasonic Europe B.V.
The central energy component of the project is Panasonic’s air to water heat pump product line-up “Aquarea.” This technology is highly energy-efficient and runs nearly carbon-free when powered by renewable energy from 600 Panasonic HIT panels supplying 195kWp. The use of patented silicone technology for photovoltaic systems makes them 10% more efficient.
This entire set up with renewable energy will help in heating, warm water generation and also cooling. To further enhance performance, a cloud-based connectivity feature ‘Aquarea Service Cloud’ will help reduce CO2 emissions. It will help in organising maintenance visits more efficiently with partially remote management.
These energy solutions will be brought under an Aquarea Smart Cloud. It will enable the residents to monitor power usage and manage temperature settings. The residents can connect the equipment with Panasonic’s smart TVs and speakers. Reportedly, this energy management system when tested achieved an improvement in energy usage by 15%.
Groundbreaking Energy Retrofit In Lisbon
The only heritage building in Lisbon, Portugal, established in 1880 underwent an energy retrofit. The Municipal Chamber of Lisbon, the mayor and more than 100 municipal staff are located here.
The project has been accomplished by the Sharing Cities Programme as a part of 2002 European Green Capital’s climate adaptation strategy. It aims to provide a living example of how working public service buildings and historic buildings can improve their energy performance. This is without any damage to its architecture and original features.
It started with a 3D model of the building to set the building’s baseline attributes. These include building materials, usage patterns, occupancy, lighting systems, temperature and equipment power usage. 3D model along with dynamic energy and weather simulation software to define an approach that suits best.
The retrofit replaced the HVAC system. All lamps were replaced by LED. And a photovoltaic system was installed for power generation. The only changes to the building were the special restoration of the existing windows. Because their quality deteriorated due to age and atmospheric elements.
The core component of this entire energy retrofit is a sustainable energy management system developed by Sharing Cities. It monitors loads of PVs, HVAC and other smaller equipment. With the new changes, the building achieved 36% savings between June 2019 and February 2020. 90% of solar generation was self-consumed on an average basis.
The project was completed with €24m funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. Going further, the building’s data insights will be taken to determine future energy policies.
Creating Energy-Harvesting Surfaces
Smart cities are used to installing solar panels on the roofs of buildings. However, the following initiative shows that cities can even use facades to harvest energy. A project named ENVISION investigates technologies to harvest energy from building surfaces.
It assesses that there are nearly 60 billion square metres of building facade surface in Europe. The area is important to achieve Europe’s goal of an energy-neutral built environment in 2050. The researchers and companies involved in the ENVISION project aim at making apartments more energy efficient.
Buildings generate more energy than used. Thus, they aim at integrating four new technologies into building facades to harvest heat or electricity. The first technology is photovoltaic windows that harvest electricity.
These windows consist of stripe-like features in the glass allowing installation near staircases or where natural light is required. The second one is the use of a special paint that absorbs 40-98% of sunlight, depending on the colour. Painted panels are attached to special heat pumps that can generate heat or hot water.
Coming to the third, panels with coloured glass can harvest heat. These colourful panels can be used in a decorating manner on building facades. The final technology uses a special ventilated window to cool down a building in summer.
It uses transparent glass on windows to harvest near-infrared radiation from sunlight. Then by moving air through the channels inside the glass the heat is removed. In general, much light gets reflected outside that contributed to the heating up of cities. In other words, it is known as the heat island effect.
The PV glass is being tested in a building in Austria. Ventilated windows are being trialled in a building at the University of Genoa. And coloured heat collector in an apartment in the Netherlands.
Sydney Using 100% Renewable Electricity
On 1st July 2020, Sydney’s operations from streetlights, pools, depots, to buildings started to run on 100% renewable energy. This has been possible by the biggest green energy deal worth over $60m by a council of Australia.
The new shift is estimated to save up to $500M a year over the next decade. CO2 emissions will reduce by nearly 20,000 tonnes per year. This is equal to the power consumption of over 6,000 households.
This project will produce jobs and support communities impacted by COVID-19 pandemic. It will also create new opportunities in drought-affected regional NSW. Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore said in the new agreement.
He said that all levels of government must urgently shift to renewable energy in the wake of climate emergency. Sydney’s green energy will come from three different generators. The first is the Shoalhaven solar farm that upon completion will have almost 10,000 panels. And it will generate energy to power 1500 homes.
Another is 120MW Bomen Solar Farm with over 310,000 solar panels on 250 hectares of land. This project is the first in Australia to use bi-facial panels that absorb sunlight on both sides. It also has tracking technology that shifts each panel throughout the day to capture the sun’s energy.
The third one is Sapphire Wind Farm near Inverell. It is the largest farm with 270MW capacity generated by 75 turbines that stand 200 metres high. While these are current initiatives to combat climate change, the future may come with more surprising green technologies.