Demand is increasing
The smart city idea conceptualises how cities of the future will incorporate technological developments into smart social infrastructure. Smart living allows greater connectivity and local energy management to create environmentally sustainable urban development.
With the UK government announcing a ban on the sale of new diesel and petrol cars by 2040, Electric Vehicles (EV) will be forced into mass adoption. This requires vehicle charging systems that can charge rapidly and are readily available.
Solar PV is able to provide scalable clean energy from small scale household installations to grid scale projects. Allied with an effective storage medium, energy generated by solar PV throughout the day can be stored for discharge during the evening periods of peak demand.
Battery storage will increasingly provide balancing services to local and national electricity networks, alleviating imbalances in supply and demand and allowing for greater penetration of intermittent renewable energy generation on to the grid.
Supply is becoming a challenge
Currently the electricity network (both in the transmission and distribution areas) relies mainly on power plants to generate stable electricity with only a small amount of renewable input. This structure means that renewable energy can be more of a headache for the National Grid than a solution due to the intermittency of these sources. Therefore, the National Grid places restrictions on the amount that can be connected and the amount that can be exported.
The curtailment of renewable generation is constricting greater adoption of renewables as part of the energy mix and keeping a reliance on less efficient technologies such as peaking plants and diesel generators. This is constraining the UK’s ability to transition into a low carbon, green energy economy which is needed to negate the issues caused by the UK’s ageing electricity network infrastructure which, if remains unaddressed, will cost millions to upgrade.
Furthermore, not only does the UK face a very costly upgrade if renewable generation is not better utilised and maximised across the nation but traditional power plants produce thousands of tonnes of CO₂ emissions every hour in addition to having a finite lifespan that due to the growing demand for energy gets shorter every day.
All these factors make a strong case for the adoption of renewables but with the current restrictions it is, at present, not feasible. Despite these limitations every year pressure is mounting from the government, independent authorities and other leading organisations to tackle the amount of emissions businesses produce and turn to sources of sustainable energy which is reinforced by sizable targets and fines for noncompliance (such as green tax).