This chapter covers the critical role energy plays in smart cities. Not only does energy keep the lights on, heat our homes and businesses and pump our water, it powers the technologies that make smart cities possible. Reliable and sustainable energy is essential. Without it, cities would be unable to meet their responsibilities and provide the services their citizens expect. And energy production and how energy is used have tremendous impacts on how livable, workable and sustainable a city will be.
Record numbers of city residents throughout the world expect their leaders to take action on climate change – and their expectation is that governments at both local, state and national levels will take action by supporting smart energy policies, including broader adoption of renewable energy technologies, and building a smarter grid.
It also should be noted here that cities use two-thirds of the world's energy — and city populations are expected to grow over the next several years at least as more people move to urban environments for the economic opportunities, lifestyle and convenience cities can provide. That means that cities will need more energy to meet the growing demand from more citizens; and it also means more energy will be needed to power the expanded services cities provide for them.
Add to those pressures on city governments the need to pay for the additional energy infrastructure required to deliver more energy. Let's take it a step further: in addition to providing more energy, doesn't it make sense financially and environmentally to use the energy we have more efficiently? That's why the Council supports smart energy networks: energy generation and delivery system technology that provides the energy we need, although in a way that optimizes it to the point where we use less.
That will be the focus of what follows in the Readiness Guide chapter on energy: how our cities can use energy in a way that makes cities more livable, workable and at the same time sustainable.