Benefits of Solar Power adoption for Smart Cities

Mr. Manish Dabkara, CMD & CEO, EKI Energy Services Ltd.

Ever wished for an infinite supply of power that is free to use all day everyday? Ever wondered what it must be like to have a clean, green and efficient source of energy that does not deplete any natural resource? What if we tell you that the solution lies in the Sun, yes the mighty yet humble sun that shines down on us everyday. 

The sun bathes the Earth radiating so much light and heat on the planet that if all this solar energy is captured for just one hour, it can power the whole world for an entire year, in other words, solar radiation can satisfy the energy needs of the planet nearly 4,000 times over. 

Sun – the best source of Clean, Inexhaustible and Renewable Energy 

Solar energy is clean, emissions-free, and renewable. Unlike fossil fuels like coal and natural gas, generation of solar energy doesn’t release harmful pollutants or greenhouse gas emissions—like carbon dioxide—into the air and water supply. The potential of increasingly adopting solar energy can therefore help eliminate harmful emissions from burning fossil fuels making them the cleanest and the most viable solution to prevent environmental degradation. It also does not generate waste or contaminate water making it a key for conserving hydrological resources. Solar energy is also an essential element in a sustainable energy system that allows development today without risking that of future generations. 

Solar energy can be harnessed in a few different ways –

(1) Photovoltaic cells, which convert sunlight into electricity.

(2) Solar thermal technology, where heat from the sun is used to create steam, which can then be used to make electricity and finally.

(3) Passive solar heating, which can be as simple as letting the sun shine through windows to heat the inside of a building.

Powering Smart Cities with Sun Energy

Smart cities are advanced cities that are well connected with smart infrastructure and communication through data centers and automated networks. What started with smart cars and smart homes, the “smart” trend has taken over entire cities as technology advances. Cities across the country and the world are transforming their infrastructure, systems, and operations to capitalize on new technologies and integrate connected solutions into the very fabric of how they operate and care for their citizens.

Solar energy is one such technological advancement which will play a big role in creating best-in-class smart cities that are role models for energy-saving living. Integration of solar power and other renewable energy sources is quickly becoming a hallmark of smart city planning. When harnessed, the sun’s energy is cheaper than conventional energies and economies of scale and innovation will drastically reduce its costs making them the most competitive sustainable solution to power the whole world both environmentally and economically. This makes solar energy one of the best implementations for smart cities with its energy and cost saving utilities apart from its ability to help conserve natural resources that are finite. 

Solar energy offers numerous applications that are energy efficient and costs minimal investments given how solar energy can be harnessed even on a building roof-top by installing solar panels. Solar power generated through such roof-top solar panels on buildings can power multiple utilities in smart cities including – electricity for smart homes and buildings, solar water heaters for hot water, solar street lights, traffic signals and even road blinkers, solar pumps for water lifting and solar concentrators for steam based cooking. Roof-top solar energy production offers not only a low gestation time but also extends savings from transmission and distribution losses. 

Use of solar power for green buildings with solar passive designs can save about 30 – 40% of conventional energy used in buildings. Solar energy will also offer a higher quality of life by being inclusive, healthier, and empowering the places that we live in. 

Sun’s power can also be harnessed for advanced capabilities like sewage treatment plants, powering local transport services like buses and electric cars, apart from being used to power multiple information and communication technology (ICT) and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions that will manage and optimize the infrastructure in smart cities.

Solar energy will also help create job opportunities in smart cities enabling further inclusive growth. 

Solar powered smart city will create a smart economy

Solar energy is a “native” energy, because it is available practically everywhere on the planet and therefore it can significantly contribute to the reduction of energy imports leading to an enhanced economy. The employment opportunities that the deployment of solar solutions can create provide additional support to enhance a country’s economy. Efficient use of electricity produced from sun energy can therefore contribute to a sustainable development of the economy.

These are just a few examples for the benefits of adopting solar power for smart cities. It is indeed just the tip of the iceberg and the potentials of solar power can be harnessed even greatly making the cities of the future more efficient, more connected, and more sustainable. 

Making cities smarter and greener will also change the way municipalities operate and help citizens maximize their potential as responsible, sustainable members of a global community. Local govt. bodies and authorities can play a significant role to enhance and encourage the implementation of solar power across cities by making solar rooftop mandatory for buildings and also offering rebates on property tax to buildings with roof-top solar panels. This will encourage more buildings to become green buildings and reduce their carbon footprint. 

Solar – the Smart choice of  Smart Cities 

Smart cities will be powered by “smart connections” for street lighting, smart buildings, distributed energy resources (DER), data analytics, and smart transportation. For all of these, solar energy is paramount!

Solar energy offers dramatic growth opportunities for sustainable living, improved quality of life and an enhanced economy, bringing together the environment and society for a peaceful co-existence and a sustainable living on the planet. In simple words, solar energy is the best available resource that can be harnessed today for a safer, greener and brighter tomorrow.