How Corona virus could affect Smart Cities

mercredi 27 Mai 2020

In the past month, several apps such as the CovApp have surfaced on the internet.

Their main goal is to target infected individuals and retrace their whereabouts to help identifiy potentially infected people.

But why and how could this affect Smart Cities ?

Well, the answer is simple. Data management is one of the key activities of Smart Cities.

By controlling traffic flux in heavily frequented areas such as public buildings, parks, train stations and airports, Smart City data centers could easily target and identifiy virus carriers.

The information could then be passed on to local Healthcare centers which will contact the aforementionned individuals and invite them to a medical check-up.

The Covid-19 crisis has shown the world the importance of tracability, transparency and a country’s capacity to take immediate action.

In this regard, could Smart Cities be part of such a solution ?

CNET – Explaining contact tracing apps that could save us from COVID-19

Energy Challenge Neuchâtel

mercredi 06 Mai 2020

Great News about Cleverly – the clever app for your home!

After an intensive week in February 2020 and the following weeks, we have submitted our project to the Energy Challenge 2020 of the Canton of Neuchâtel.

Cleverly is therefore competing with various other projects for the initial investment of CHF 3’000.–. This seed capital will help us to create a first prototype of our app and start our collaboration with partners such as local governments, communities and corporations.

We strongly believe that a community platform is needed to transform our future into a bright, electrifying one! We will keep you updated.

Your Cleverly Team

Environmental impact of smart grids

mercredi 22 Avr 2020

Most researchers agree that it is rather a question of when than of if the smart grid will be introduced (Tuballa & Abundo, 2016). To date, we have been writing and talking about the potential future business models and necessary steps in order to initiate the proclaimed transition process. However, we did not spend sufficient time on elaborating the potential environmental impact a smart grid may create.

An overwhelming part of the smart grid research has been focusing on the technological, legal and social aspects of a smart grid transformation (Pratt et al., 2010). The main measures of success stated are “improved reliability and cost-effective operation” (p. 5). However, as Pratt et al. argue, smart grids may create a potentially significant benefit for governmental climate change actions and therefore may propose an opportunity for accelerated, state-sponsored programs. To date, most empirical research regarding Co2 and energy savings in connection with smart grids are based on assumptions and represent solely estimates calculated by the respective studies (Hledik, 2009). Therefore, it is important to remember, that the actual environmental impact may be above or beyond the intervals provided by researchers.

In order to demonstrate a certain consensus between different studies, three specific researches will be briefly summarized. For further information on the different categories and mechanisms considered within each study as well as the underlying empirical data, please refer to the bibliography at the end of this blog post.

First, the study conducted by Pratt et al. (2010) for the United States Department of Energy focused on eight mechanisms impacting the energy consumption and the generation mix. One of the greatest impacts is created by information and feedback systems according to Pratt et al with close to three precent. The findings of the study suggest that the energy consumption and therewith linked Co2 emission may be reduced by 18% (p. 7), assuming a 100% smart grid implementation.

Second, the study conducted by Rohmund, Wikler, Faruqui, Siddiqui, & Tempchin (2009) is based on overall seven mechanisms and their respective influence. Similar to Pratt et al., the study attributes the greatest reduction potential for feedback systems on the energy usage. The authors of the study state the interval of the potential energy consumption and therewith linked Co2 emission reduction between 3.1% and 11.3% (p. 125)

Third, Hledik (2009) uses in his study five different mechanisms for measuring the potential energy consumption and Co2 emission reduction. In contrast to the research of Pratt et al. and Rohmund et al., Hledik argues that the major reduction potential is offered by load shifting and decentralized production and distribution. Overall, Hledik estimates the overall potential reduction to lay approximately between 5.1% and 15.7% of the total output (p. 38).

The aim of this brief comparison of the findings of current empirical research is, to demonstrate that governmental actors may consider the implementation of smart grids as a viable option for achieving their set climate goals (EU Commission Task Force for Smart Grids, 2016; Hledik, 2009). It is undisputable that smart grids create a positive externality regarding climate change and therefore propose an interesting additional measurement for climate policy making.

The difficulty for governments, however, is the non-existence of reliable research based on real-world data due to the lack of large-scale smart grid initiatives (EU Commission Task Force for Smart Grids, 2011). Nevertheless, we believe that smart grids have to be discussed on a national level and supported by sufficient funding in order to diversify the national climate actions.

References

EU Commission Task Force for Smart Grids. (2011). Task Force Smart Grids Expert Group 2 : Regulatory Recommendations for Data Safety , Data Handling and Data Protection Report. Task Force for Smart Grids.

EU Commission Task Force for Smart Grids. (2016). Smart Electricity Grids.

Hledik, R. (2009). How Green Is the Smart Grid? Electricity Journal, 22(2), 29–41.

Pratt, R. G., Balducci, P., Gerkensmeyer, C., Katipamula, S., Kintner-Meyer, M. C. W., Sanquist, T. F., … Secrets, T. J. (2010). The smart grid: an estimation of the energy and CO2 benefits. United States Department of Energy.

Rohmund, I., Wikler, G., Faruqui, A., Siddiqui, O., & Tempchin, R. (2009). Assessment of Achievable Potential for Energy Efficiency and Demand Response in the U.S. (2010 – 2030). EPRI. Palo Alto.

Tuballa, M. L., & Abundo, M. L. (2016). A review of the development of Smart Grid technologies. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 59, 710–725.

Consumer-centric networks

mardi 14 Avr 2020

The way we produce energy drastically changed during the last two decades (Pinson et al., 2017; Sousa et al., 2019). Since then, new technology and increasing consumer engagement initiated a far-reaching energy transition towards a more sustainable and self-sustaining energy future. Researchers agree that consumer engagement as well as technological advancements are at the core of a successful energy transition on a global scale (Katz et al., 2011; Lin & Hu, 2018a; Saad, Glass, Mandayam, & Poor, 2016; Sousa et al., 2019).

One major challenge of renewable energy is the rather volatile energy production throughout the day (Honebein, Cammarano, & Boice, 2011). Further, renewable energy production is no longer produced by large energy corporations with the ability to influence the energy output directly. That enlightens a major challenge of how we produce energy and how we ensure the grid stability.

One opportunity is, to move the power grid, like the production, closer to the community and the individuals (Sousa et al., 2019). That means, when the energy is produced locally, the ownership structure of the grid should be managed locally as well.

But it is not only about the way we produce energy that matters but also the way we use the produced energy (Farhangi, 2017). The behavior HOW we consume energy is crucial in the wake of the urbanization wave coming this very century. It is vital to understand how and where we use energy and how we can influence our consumption effectively.

Therefore, the need for a community-based platform which incentivizes the efficient and effective use of energy as well as the option to become an active part of the energy community is crucial for the aspired energy transition (Ipakchi & Albuyeh, 2009).

However, the enabler of such a transition are threefold.

First, the appropriate technology must be in place. With the right technology, the community and private business sector will be able to rethink the nature of electricity markets and introduce new business models of these markets into the economy (Lin & Hu, 2018b; Tuballa & Abundo, 2016). One major challenge technology must address is the question of framework. In a system with heterogeneous components, a framework including all possible components, disregarding their operational characteristics, is vital to the proper functioning (Abrahamse & Steg, 2013; Metzger & Rieger, 2009). There has been a tech push for more than a decade with diverse framework proposals such as for example the transactive energy framework. Further, researchers and practitioners alike consider blockchain technology as the true enabler for decentralized and more community-based energy systems (Mengelkamp, Notheisen, Beer, Dauer, & Weinhardt, 2018). Smart contracts, based on the ledger system of the blockchain, are at heart of their arguments that such a technology has the capability of boosting the energy transition. Furthermore, smart contracts offer a solution to different legal challenges regarding the purchasing and selling of self-produced electricity within the community. Moreover, platforms based on the blockchain technology may allow the system to be run without a third-party supervision and therefore more efficient and effective than current business models allow. The great technological barrier is the stability of the system and the capacity (Lin & Hu, 2018a). Energy systems are crucial to our daily life and without energy, the economic and social life may collapse (Abrahamse & Steg, 2009; Huijts, Molin, & Steg, 2012). Therefore, before implementing such technology on a larger scale, we must ensure the stability, ability and appropriateness of the technology for handling such processes. A great challenge hereby is the fast and ever-changing technological environment where we have to implement technology today which is suitable for future technological inventions. Therefore, potential implemented technologies must be open-sourced and allow the community to become an active part of future inventions.

Second, the consumer engagement has to be mobilized right from the beginning (Abrahamse & Steg, 2009, 2013). One major benefit for consumers in a consumer-centric approach is, that they can actively influence how they produce, share and source energy. The promising change hereby is, that this influence is possible throughout the system and includes the small consumers on a residential level as well (Saad et al., 2016). This possible influence increases, according to Saad et al., the awareness level and motivates small actors to actively participate in the energy transition. For consumer engagement to be successful, it needs a high degree of transparency and interaction between the energy providers and the consumers. Combining the consumer’s opportunity to interact with the production and sourcing of energy and an information platform providing crucial information on the personal energy consumption as well as effective measures to reduce such consumption, may prove to be at the heart of the energy transition itself – at least from the consumer-centric point of view (Pinson et al., 2017). At heart of consumer engagement is, to achieve enough momentum to attract sufficient members of the population and, therefore, reach the required scale of economies. Hereby, collaborations between projects and government may be one possible way to address such challenges efficiently (EU Commission Task Force for Smart Grids, 2011a).

Third, governments must provide the suitable legal environment (Agrell, Bogetoft, & Mikkers, 2013; EU Commission Task Force for Smart Grids, 2011b). The legal framework is a great challenge for the energy transition as the transition questions current energy models. Governments have to adapt their legal code and enable the community to drive the energy transition forward without being at risk of unnecessary legal prosecution (Honebein et al., 2011). One major question the government have to answer is the contractual basis of producing, selling and buying energy and how to prove such contracts in case of a legal dispute. Further, the government has to ensure that the grid stability is ensured at all time and provides a framework where governmental entities and communities can collaborate together.

Researchers are sure that the energy transition will happen and the energy grid will become more decentralized and localized (Allcott, 2011; Ipakchi & Albuyeh, 2009; Parag & Sovacool, 2016). The question is, however, about the way this transition will take place and what role individual producers will play. A consumer-centric energy grid is one possible solution to that question. After reviewing a lot of literature and having many discussions with experts, group 2 believes that a consumer-centric approach offers promising opportunities when the energy transition is analyzed from a community-centric point of view.

Nevertheless, important questions such as the role of energy corporations, the securing of the grid’s stability and bridging energy production in the case of not sufficient local production outputs remain unanswered.

References

Abrahamse, W., & Steg, L. (2009). How do socio-demographic and psychological factors relate to households’ direct and indirect energy use and savings? Journal of Economic Psychology, 30(5), 711–720.

Abrahamse, W., & Steg, L. (2013). Social influence approaches to encourage resource conservation: A meta-analysis. Global Environmental Change, 23(6), 1773–1785.

Agrell, P. J., Bogetoft, P., & Mikkers, M. (2013). Smart-grid investments, regulation and organization. Energy Policy, 52, 656–666.

Allcott, H. (2011). Social norms and energy conservation. Journal of Public Economics, 95(9–10), 1082–1095.

EU Commission Task Force for Smart Grids. (2011a). Roles and Responsibilities of Actors involved in the Smart Grids Deployment. Task Force for Smart Grids.

EU Commission Task Force for Smart Grids. (2011b). Task Force Smart Grids Expert Group 2 : Regulatory Recommendations for Data Safety , Data Handling and Data Protection Report. Task Force for Smart Grids.

Farhangi, H. (2017). Smart Grid. In Encyclopedia of Sustainable Technologies (pp. 195–203).

Honebein, P. C., Cammarano, R. F., & Boice, C. (2011). Building a Social Roadmap for the Smart Grid. The Electricity Journal, 24(4), 78–85.

Huijts, N. M. A., Molin, E. J. E., & Steg, L. (2012). Psychological factors influencing sustainable energy technology acceptance: A review-based comprehensive framework. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 16, 525–531. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2011.08.018

Ipakchi, A., & Albuyeh, F. (2009). Grid of the future. IEEE Power and Energy Magazine, 7(2), 52–62.

Katz, R. H., Culler, D. E., Sanders, S., Alspaugh, S., Chen, Y., Dawson-Haggerty, S., … Shankar, S. (2011). An information-centric energy infrastructure: The Berkeley view. Sustainable Computing: Informatics and Systems, 1, 7–22.

Lin, Y. H., & Hu, Y. C. (2018a). Residential consumer-centric demand-side management based on energy disaggregation-piloting constrained swarm intelligence: Towards edge computing. Sensors (Switzerland).

Lin, Y. H., & Hu, Y. C. (2018b). Residential consumer-centric demand-side management based on energy disaggregation-piloting constrained swarm intelligence: Towards edge computing. Sensors (Switzerland), 18(5), 1365.

Mengelkamp, E., Notheisen, B., Beer, C., Dauer, D., & Weinhardt, C. (2018). A blockchain-based smart grid: towards sustainable local energy markets. Computer Science – Research and Development, 33, 207–214.

Metzger, P., & Rieger, M. (2009). Equilibria in games with prospect theory preferences (598).

Parag, Y., & Sovacool, B. K. (2016). Electricity market design for the prosumer era. Nature Energy.

Pinson, P., Baroche, T., Moret, F., Sousa, T., Sorin, E., & You, S. (2017). The Emergence of Consumer-centric Electricity Markets. Distribution & Utilization, 34(12), 27–31.

Saad, W., Glass, A. L., Mandayam, N. B., & Poor, H. V. (2016). Toward a consumer-centric grid: A behavioral perspective. Proceedings of the IEEE, 104(4), 865–882.

Sousa, T., Soares, T., Pinson, P., Moret, F., Baroche, T., & Sorin, E. (2019). Peer-to-peer and community-based markets: A comprehensive review. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 104, 367–378.

Tuballa, M. L., & Abundo, M. L. (2016). A review of the development of Smart Grid technologies. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 59, 710–725.

A sustainable energy system for smart neighborhoods, communities & cities

mercredi 08 Avr 2020
A short introduction of the group members

First working day: Cooperation between Russia and Switzerland

As a group we met each other for the first time the 10th of February 2020 in Basel. We started to talk about our competencies, the topic, tried to understand what the task was about. Each of us had different and new point of views concerning the subject of decentralized energy systems in Smart Cities. Swiss students talked about sustainability, Russians talked about gas and oil. The IT specialist talked about data security. The economists tried to save costs. The entrepreneur spoke about opportunities.

We had to build a common ground. What did a Smart City mean to us? What was the difference between decentralized and centralized energy systems? What kind of problems did we face with decentralized systems? How could we solve these problems? We invested some time to define our goals and how we wanted to work together. We built a foundation for our work based on respect, wishes and expectations. Once we have built the foundation, we were in an excellent position to continue our work.

Our proposition: A predictable decentralized energy system

After four days of work, exchanges, researches and coaching, we came to a first idea of outcome that we decided to call PDES (Predictable Decentralized Energy System).

This solution proposed by our group consists of mixing different kind of sustainable energy systems. This mix aims to provide a fix amount of energy both overnight and during the day by the substitution of a system by another. It is as well possible that a single energy system cannot cover the overall requirements of the inhabitants or communities. Therefore, it has to be supplied by another source of power that could be solar, wind, garbage or biomass energy system.

A system we are looking forward to implementing in our PDES is the potential to produce biogas from wastewater. Neuchâtel is exploiting this system and it could be very suitable and promising for the Wolf area in Basel as well as for big cities in Russia (Omsk, Samara). Information about this technology are currently being taken with the authorities of Neuchâtel. There is not a single way to make concrete proposition of our PDES, the “one best way” does not exist because there are plenty of opportunities to address the energy challenges that our society is facing. It is necessary to adapt to the reality of everyone. In that order, we are currently working on a program that could calculate the best mix of energy systems based on data insert into the program. Thanks to a comparison costs-efficiency, we are going to be able to suggest the most effective combination for our business partners. Their budget, geographic situation, legal restrictions and energy needs are going to be taken into consideration.

Challenges encountered

During our work we faced some problems and we had to solve all of them.

The main challenge we faced in realizing a decentralized energy system was to make it predictable. There cannot be situations where our system does not work. Especially when people need energy for their living. The energy system has to be able to provide it. It must be ready to work in different conditions, for example seasons or times of day. So, the system must be reliable, but how can we make it? It was the main and very important question. The main but not the only one. We discussed a lot about how to realize the system in Switzerland, but how can we implement it in Russia? Russia already has a lot of energy from gas and oil. Why should they use our new system? How can we convince Russian people to use it?

How to make our system secure? It was another issue we faced. Transparency and security are important for any decentralized systems. People must be sure that they have no risks. At the end of the discussion, we have had plenty of problems, but all of them have already been solved.

A few words in conclusion

The first presentation of our project in front of experts took place in Neuchâtel on the 13th of February 2020. There were happy and very interested in our work. Experts gave us two main points to work on:

  1. Consider the potential of wastewater to produce energy;
  2. Produce a tool able to calculate “the best and cheapest mix of energies”.

Point 2 is a huge challenge. We started our researches about the average consumption for electricity and heat. Next we have to think about the potential of each technology and figure out how high the price will be. Finally, we have to put all this complex and connected data into a user-friendly tool. This will not be easy, but we are convinced of it and look forward to our outcome.

Robert presented twice our project in Russia. His statement made a strong impression on the listeners. And they had a discussion to compare the issues between Russia and Switzerland. They concluded that Russia has a problem with garbage sorting and conducted a poll as well which revealed that the people living in small villages did not interest in the decentralized energy. The exchanges with Samara’s experts summarize well the situation in Russia:

  • Solution like our PDES looks good and suitable for Russian region;
  • System like that is our future;
  • More time is needed to raise awareness of Russian people.

To achieve our calculation program and identify which part of it can interest Russia, we need to make lots of researches, share articles and knowledge, interview experts and have regular virtual meetings. Our task is consequent, and we cannot wait the second intensive week in Russia. During the mentioned week in Russia we are going to have little time to adjust details and elaborate a strategy to convince experts from Switzerland and Russia.

We are very excited and everybody in the group is giving his best to make our project real. We still have a lot of work to do, but the beginning has already been laid!

Regards,

Students: Jérémy Bernard, Daniil Bugai, Simon Müller and Robert Naumov

Prof. Dr./Coach: Tina Haisch


See you next summer!

vendredi 28 Fév 2020

On the last day of the intensive week, teams had the chance to finally present their project to a commitee of experts on site and via video conference.

Team members could share their project with experts and get some crucial feedback regarding feasable and pratical solutions.

The end of the day, which also marked the end of the intensive week, was celebrated with a light cocktail dinner.

We hope to see you all again in Russia this summer!

Until then, good luck with your projects.

Back to school

vendredi 28 Fév 2020

Back at the HEG Arc Neuchâtel, teams had to make some last adjustments before their presentation.

All teams worked hard to seduce experts with their sustainable solutions.

Teams working in different classrooms

In the meantime, some members had to prepare for their press meeting.

Links to the article are available in the Press section of this blog
http://projets.he-arc.ch/scz/press/

Ligerz

vendredi 28 Fév 2020

Projects were worked on in a little town called Ligerz, where the team had the chance to stay at the Aarbergerhus.

Teams split into groups of 4. They prepared for the presentation on the final day of the intensive week.

Regretfully, access to the internet was slow and complicated.

We needed to find a solution ASAP!

In the end, we had no other solution than to head to the HEG Arc Neuchâtel.

Thankfully, the HEG team was flexible enough to allocate rooms and organize access to the internet for Russian team members. Others simply gained access through their eduroam login.

At the center of it all

vendredi 28 Fév 2020

After our great start in the Hyve coworking space in Basel, we were brought to the Wolf Areal, host of the Smart City Lab Basel.

We could all leave our luggage at the entrance of the main coworking space, before being greeted by a swiss federal railway (SBB CFF FFS) employee.

After a quick presentation of the federal railway’s project to transform the Wolf Areal in one of Switzerland’s most advanced Smart Cities, we were invited to visit the area.

Our team then had the chance to meet experts and visit the coworking and event spaces of Basel’s future Smart City.

The more adventurous members could even try out electric scooters.

We all had a lot of fun! Groups also had the chance to get some ideas from the experts or even the different information panels that could be found in the area.

At the end of the day, after having gathered a plethora of ideas, students could once again work on their projects before returning to Ligerz.

Welcome to the future!

mardi 11 Fév 2020

Our project Smart CityZens started officially this week with the arrival of students from Russia and Switzerland in Basel. The student groups have already started addressing the challenges faced by partner cities and companies. Lots of ideas emerged on the first day and translated into numerous coloured post-its!