Future City Technology: Powering the Smart Cities of Tomorrow

Smart cities are no longer considered a distant possibility. As urban areas already consume around 75 per cent of global primary energy, it’s inevitable that the reliance on energy will steadily increase as we become more connected. This uptick will create a significant strain on the grid, and a demand for more reliable, efficient, clean energy sources. Eaton’s Energy Aware solution, which is based on Eaton’s core UPS-as-a-Reserve power technology (UPSaaR), answers these needs by providing the valuable support necessary to empower the smart cities of tomorrow. The technology has been in development since 2016 and has been successfully trialled in data centres in Norway, Sweden, Ireland and the UK.

Created as a result of evolved technology and a new generation of lithium-ion batteries, this UPS technology has the capability to achieve a dual benefit of contributing to the increase of renewable energy sources and being a value-generating asset. It can provide power for moments of renewable volatility, receive energy from the grid to optimise utility bills, and aid in frequency regulation initiatives to create an additional revenue stream for operators.


Renewable reliability

As it stands, wind and solar now come closest to meeting the growing demand for clean energy sources. That said, the issue of renewable volatility is still a major concern, making it tough for energy providers to consistently balance the electrical supply. That’s why Eaton’s Energy Aware solution is key to the success of environmentally conscious smart cities. Eaton’s solution acts as a critical safeguard during potentially damaging power anomalies and helps the grid balance and sustain power frequencies. This flexibility gives energy providers more room to properly forecast and fill the gaps created by the volatility of renewable sources. Having an energy storage system within a data centre eliminates the need to depend on other traditional sources, like coal, to keep the grid stable, allowing for greater adoption of renewable energies across the grid.


Profitability for UPS users

Having a constant stream of affordable and reliable energy is key to improving the quality of life for urban residents. Eaton’s Energy Aware UPS does this by facilitating the smart usage of energy production methods. Ensuring that all residents have the required amount of power at any time will eliminate bottlenecks and reduce incidences of power failure – especially as the strain on the grid and the electrical infrastructure continues to become more complex. Having a reserve energy system also has the added benefit of lowering utility costs during times of peak energy use.

As more data centre owners and other major UPS users (i.e. airports and hospitals) adopt this technology, the financial benefits are likely to grow. By having a reserve system of power, users will be able to sell energy back to the grid when its most valuable and energy tariffs are at their highest. This will ensure a reliable source of energy in times of volatility and will create an additional stream of revenue for those that are willing to participate. As it stands, the typical returns equate to up to EUR 50,000 per MW of power allocated to grid support per year.

Eaton’s Energy Aware solution ultimately works to underpin the smart city of the future, one that is focused on enabling governments, citizens and business to provide a superior quality of life, economic competitiveness and sustainability.

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