Smart city project points the way to sustainable urban living

2013-03-04 - Two-thirds of the world’s energy consumption is linked to city living across the globe. With a little over half the world’s population living in cities and an expected increase to around 70 percent by 2050, a dramatic change is needed in the way we manage our urban environments, if we are to curb energy usage and emissions, and bring global warming under control.

By ABB Communications

This is particularly important because 90 percent of the world’s urban areas are situated on the coast, where climatologists expect the most devastating impacts of climate change, from rising sea levels to storms such as last October’s Hurricane Sandy in New York.

Copyright Helin & Co Arkkitehdit
So what can be done? We have the technology to make our cities ‘smarter,’ which means we can monitor, optimize and control key city systems, such as buildings, energy and transport. To this end, a pioneering project is underway in the Kalasatama district in the heart of Helsinki, Finland, where ABB, Helsingin Energia, Fingrid (a transmission system operator) and the city planning department, are in partnership to develop a new city area. The vision is to provide a smart grid based on industry-wide standards to support a stable, secure, efficient and environmentally sustainable power system. It will accommodate customer demand response management systems to ensure that excess power generated from renewable energy sources in the district itself, for instance from solar panels and wind turbines, can be fed into the power grid and allow consumers to interact with the network operator and the energy market, to reduce peak loads and increase efficiency.

Copyright Jarmo Roiko-Jokela
This showcase project started in 2010 and along with the erection of the district the latest smart grid solutions are being tested and deployed, such as the closed medium voltage ring network, the first of its kind in the world. This pioneering technology is designed to ensure reliable power distribution and efficient use of energy. In the ring network, the power is supplied continuously from two directions with separate protection for each section, which means that if a fault develops the faulty section is instantly isolated and power can be delivered without interruption to the healthy sections. This together with remotely controlled secondary substations reduces the duration of power outages, which although rare, can be isolated rapidly from a centralized control room.

In addition, the over 1 megawatt (MW) energy storage system will be connected to the substation that is currently under construction in Kalasatama. This system actively controls the frequency and reactive power, and supplies instantly power in case of any high-voltage fault until back-up generators are up and running.

This project will provide living space for 18,000 people and around 10,000 work places by the early 2030s and the goal is to develop the new Kalasatama district into a global benchmark for smart cities, providing evidence that a carbon-neutral energy system based on local renewable wind and solar energy can sustain ever expanding urban living.

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