Clean Energy Technologies are one of the Fundamental Components for Developing Smart Cities & Smart Countries

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Forget banking and the automotive industry. Earth is the one system that is truly “too big to fail.” For centuries humans had used up the planet’s resources, saddled it with our waste, and moved on when a wellspring dried up or the back forty became polluted. But now we’ve exhausted that strategy. Scientists, social thinkers, and the global public are realizing that humankind has transformed the natural planet into an industrialized one. We must transition again to a sustainable world if we are to serve. A great example of the above-mentioned is the Nordic region. Specifically, the Nordic region (i.e., Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) is a leading provider of clean energy technologies and a leading user of clean energy – 2/3 of the electricity generated in the region comes from renewable energy sources. The Nordic region is globally competitive in several technologies. These include renewable generation in the wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower, and bioenergy, storage and transport technologies such as hydrogen, fuel cells, second-generation biofuels, electric vehicles, and other energy technologies efficiency, smart grids, and carbon capture and storage.

Denmark is a leader in wind power technologies, and Finland has expertise in bio-energy for combined heat and power. Sweden is at the forefront of second-generation biofuels, Iceland with geothermal energy, and Norway with hydropower, photovoltaic solar, and carbon capture and storage.

Close cooperation between the Nordic countries in technology development and energy distribution facilitates the incorporation of renewable energy into the grid. Electricity is traded between Nordic markets in one of the world’s most integrated international electricity grids, with stable sources of hydroelectric power from Norway and Sweden balancing fluctuating sources of wind power in other countries, for example.

A smarter grid is critical in integrating fluctuating supplies of renewable energy. Over 20% of the electricity generated in Denmark is from wind, with that number becoming much higher in certain parts of the country. Various ongoing projects demonstrate the potential to link wind power, smart grids, and electric vehicles together in a clean and efficient power and transport network.

Nordic governments have set ambitious long-term targets for energy and climate issues. Sweden, for example, intends to be independent of oil by 2020. These targets are backed up by significant funding for energy and climate research and innovation and various policies to stimulate markets for clean energy, such as carbon taxes and green certificate schemes.

Smart cities should focus their long-term energy investment into:

(1) Utilizing much more energy-efficient vehicles will save much money and make the cities more competitive by eliminating millions of euros a day in imports.

(2) Moving towards electrification of personal vehicles for traveling 300 miles or less.

(3) Introducing alternatives for liquid transportation fuels: glucose, agricultural waste products, and lumber waste products.

(4) Mastering the ability to capture more energy hitting the earth and long-term massive distribution and storage.

(5) Stimulating a second industrial revolution for a severe climate change action. This is a plan suggested by Dr. Steven Chu around 2009. Specifically, this is an aggressive timetable for reductions in emission levels which suggests the following:

– By 2011 – Quarterly auctions begin to distribute greenhouse-gas allowances.

– By 2020 – 20% of electricity will come from renewable sources.

– By 2023 – Total CO2 emissions from transportation fuels must drop 5% below 2005 levels.

– By 2025 – Emissions from older coal-fired plants are capped at 1,100 pounds per megawatt-hour.

– By 2030 – Greenhouse-gas emissions will fall to 42% below 2005 levels.

– By 2039 – Hydrofluorocarbons will fall to 85% of 2006 levels.

– By 2050 – Emissions meet the final target: 83% below 2005 levels.     

Putting all this together, smart cities should be carbon-free by 2050 in the EU and US. We should not forget that the sun is the cleanest form of nuclear power. The energy hitting Earth is more than 10,000 times what we need. If we achieve even 1% efficiency at a low cost and store the energy, we’ll have enough for nine and a half billion people without polluting the world. The laws of physics say it’s possible. We don’t have to invent something better than the sun. It’s the sun that gives us solar, hydro, wind, and waves.

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