Cities, Utilities Getting Smarter About Their Power

As the landscape of power generation and distribution continues to evolve, the needs of those responsible for managing these processes also change. According to recent reports, responsible agents are taking the necessary steps to keep up with a rapidly shifting environment.

Boulder, Colo.-based market-research firm Navigant reports that cities are getting smarter, literally and figuratively, about the resources that must be delivered to their residents. Technological innovation is changing the way cities manage the delivery of a variety of essential resources and services. Several factors are driving growth in the market for this technology.

According to the study, “Smart Cities,” the world population is undergoing a major urbanization. Millions of people are migrating to cities every year, which presents city planners with a number of challenges. To address these challenges, many are embracing the smart cities concept.

Navigant broadly defines smart cities as “the integration of technology into a strategic approach to sustainability, citizen well-being, and economic development.” Cities are using smart technology to address issues with energy distribution, energy management, water delivery, transportation management and public safety.

Smart cities technology is supported by developments in wireless communications, sensor networks, data analytics, geospatial analysis, mobile computing and cloud computing. Navigant projects the global market for smart cities technology to grow by more than $27.5 billion annually over the next 20 years, reaching $174.4 billion in 2023.

Meanwhile, utilities also are getting smarter about the way they deliver power. Driven at least in part by the rapid urbanization of the populace and the growth of smart cities that this encourages, many utilities are turning to new technologies to help them manage their grids.

A second Navigant report, “Dynamic Volt/VAR Control Architectures,” describes one of the markets for this technology. According to the study, “making the power grid more flexible, resilient and efficient is the single most important objective for electric utilities” in the current energy environment.

As loads become more variable and sources become more intermittent, grids need to become more flexible and resilient. One of the ways that utilities can do this is by adopting dynamic voltage and volt-ampere reactive control architecture (DVCA). Such technology will help grids become reliable at all times and be able to accommodate the rapid growth of distributed generation and electric vehicles.

Navigant reports that, in recent years, DVCA has evolved to distributed, switched and automated capacitor banks and power electronics, dynamic-voltage regulation and sophisticated reactive power management. It projects worldwide investments in these technologies to reach $17.7 billion by 2023.

About the Author

Rick Laezman

Freelance Writer

Rick Laezman is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer who has been covering renewable power for more than 10 years. He may be reached at

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