Is Smart City the way forward for Dubai and the UAE?

2014-03-23 - Dubai is keen to showcase itself as a smart city ahead of the Dubai Expo 2020. Carlos Pone, head of Southern Gulf, Kuwait and Pakistan in a recent interview to Construction Week magazine talks about ABB's capabilities that can help Dubai achieve its vision.

Construction Week Interview - Excerpts

Smart Cities - what does this mean to Dubai and the GCC as a whole? How can it drive growth?
Urbanization is a global megatrend that is transforming societies. The integration of smart technologies in infrastructure development presents an opportunity for Dubai and the UAE to continue on its impressive growth path and at the same time create a strong foundation for a sustainable urban future.

DEWA, the city’s power and water authority has to generate more energy to meet the city’s growing population. According to recent reports, the expansion of Dubai’s economic activity over the next seven years will result in a growth in electricity demand of 4-6% per annum.

This means that by 2020 Dubai’s electricity consumption will reach 9.6 GW, a 50 per cent jump from 2012 levels. We believe that the way forward is to switch to energy efficient products and solutions.

What solutions can be provided in terms of infrastructure? Energy Efficiency?

There are a host of solutions that ABB provides for making a city ‘energy smart’. Yes, we start with energy efficiency, as the International Energy Agency, the Paris-based energy consumers’ club says industry could still axe its energy bills by a breathtaking $3.3 trillion by 2035.Some of that reduction is even relatively easy. The IEA argues massive savings can be made just by upgrading the efficiency of the millions of motors and motor-driven systems used in industrial applications throughout the world.

To speak about specifics, let’s begin with improving the power infrastructure - the most advanced smart grid technologies are in electrical transmission, and ABB is the market and technology leader in many of them: Flexible Alternating Current Transmission Systems (FACTS) devices enable existing transmission lines to deliver maximum power, and help stabilize the grid with precise power control. High-voltage direct current (HVDC) technology can deliver long-distance power with low losses on land and under water, and connect asynchronous grids. Wide area monitoring systems (WAMS) track critical system parameters to prevent development of dangerous instability in the network. Supervisory control and data acquisition systems (SCADA) analyse real-time grid conditions, providing data for fast power adjustments. The biggest changes are in the distribution network and for end users, especially commercial and residential users.

ABB technologies for smart distribution networks and buildings include smart meters, building automation systems, electric vehicle charging equipment, low-voltage solar inverters, high-efficiency distribution transformers; substation and feeder automation.

In terms of just building - commercial and residential buildings account for about 38 percent of global end-user energy demand, mainly for heating, cooling and powering electric appliances. The consumption of buildings can be reduced with energy efficient technologies such as intelligent controls that adjust the heating temperature, lighting and energy consumption of electric appliances to the actual requirements. ABB products and systems typically provide energy savings of between 30 and 60 percent in these areas.

Does a smart city necessarily mean one that is technologically driven?

A "smart city" uses digital technology to deliver better, more efficient services to its citizens. It enables access to information via data collected from devices and sensors that are embedded in roadways, energy and water infrastructure, buildings and more.

For example, smart power and water grids improve efficiency and reliability, as well as provide customers with detailed information to help them reduce their bills. For another example, a smart transportation network optimizes multi-modal travel throughout the city with real-time bus updates, taxi locations, and the ability to reserve parking spots.