As national governments release their plans to decrease carbon dependency and adapt to the ongoing challenges of climate change, regional and local energy policies represent one of the most effective vehicles for achieving these new goals.
Meanwhile, municipal leaders across the globe are assuming a more proactive role in the process of creating sustainable energy policies, by developing their own comprehensive energy efficiency and carbon reduction goals.
According to the latest worldwide market study by Navigant Research, the result has been a number of ambitious energy projects supported by innovations in smart grid technology, demand management, alternative or renewable generation, and distributed energy resources.
For cities and utilities, developing an effective cross-agency smart energy and smart city strategy enables the optimal use of energy resources and reduces redundant investments in infrastructure.
According to the Navigant assessment, such a strategy also improves the quality of services offered to residential, public sector, and commercial energy users.
However, the smart energy for smart cities vision has several economic and technical barriers that inhibit its current development.
Alignment between stakeholders is not easily achieved due to the varying business models of cities, utilities, and private stakeholders. Moreover, technology and standards for interoperability are lagging behind the conceptual goals of the smart city.
Regardless of these issues, Navigant Research has forecast that global smart energy for smart cities technology revenue will grow from $7.3 billion in 2015 to $20.9 billion in 2024.
"Energy is the lifeblood of a city," said Lauren Callaway, research analyst at Navigant Research. "Developing an integrated and sustainable energy strategy within the smart city framework is one of the most effective ways cities can contribute to their larger goals of addressing climate change, supporting citizen well-being, and fostering economic development."
Many synergies exist within the technology frameworks that make up the backbone of the smart grid, advanced energy, and other smart cities applications, according to the Navigant study.
In the next decade, cities, utilities and third-party vendors are expected to increasingly pursue opportunities to bridge complementary technologies, enabling the optimal use of citizen and city-owned energy resources and reducing redundant investments in infrastructure.