'Power-starved B'luru should focus on renewable energy'

'Power-starved B'luru should focus on renewable energy'

'Power-starved B'luru should focus on renewable energy'

The City might have lost out in the Smart City race. But it could still benefit by learning the dynamics of how a Smart City works through a multi-stakeholder approach.

This, in essence, is the contention of Damian Wagner from the German Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering, as he emphasises on a collaborative effort that integrates the government, experts, engineers and the City agencies.

Wagner, in an interaction with the Deccan Herald on the sidelines of a conference on, “Sustainable cities and climate change,” talks about capitalising on Europe’s experience with Smart Cities. But he insists that this could work even better by exploiting India’s strengths in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

“Politicians here should also understand the need for a roadmap. It is a long-term process that requires training,” he explains.

Fraunhofer Institute’s approach is essentially built around the six pillars of mobility, infrastructure, energy, ICT, security and governance. But this grid could be prioritised according to the local government’s preference. The process, as Wagner elaborates, could incorporate all these through a “common story.” “Like, for instance, to make Bengaluru as the City of the future. There is a need to show the citizens the benefits.” But the collaboration is not a one-way process, reasons Wagner. Europe too can learn from India. “India has some of the best ICT in the world. Norway, for instance, gets a lot of ICT expertise from India. There are shortcomings there too in building a robust broadband infrastructure.”

Renewable Energy (RE) is a key component of the Smart City idea, something that a power-starved Bengaluru could increasingly focus on.

But, as Wagner points out, to make RE economically viable, the idea that conventional energy will be subsidised for ever, should go. “Renewable energy is not cost-effective if the market is not right,” he observes.

Germany had switched to RE in a big way, giving nuclear energy the go-by. “RE contributes about 25 per cent to the grid there. Economically, nuclear energy is extremely expensive,” notes Wagner. But whichever energy mode a potential Smart City opts for, energy efficiency is critical, he adds. Incidentally, a major share of power here is lost in Transmission and Distribution (T&D losses).

As project coordinator of the Smart City Triangulum, Wagner has been spearheading RE systems in a set of “Lighthouse Cities.”

In Stavanger with the highest electric vehicle density in Europe, the Triangulum has combined this fleet with a high-performance fibre optic network. This has boosted the city’s energy and mobility solutions, while also involving citizens, enterprises, research institutions, and the health sector.

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