SMART GRIDS ARE A CRITICAL COMPONENT in the development of smarter cities - they not only add reliability to the critical infrastructure underlying most other city systems, they can also help us understand demand and consumption patterns to optimize the generation and use of energy resources.
With an estimated 1 million people worldwide moving into cities each week, experts predict the urban population to double by 2050 to 6.4 billion - making up 70 percent of the total world population. Already, cities consume 75 percent of the world's energy and produce more than 80 percent of greenhouse gases.
To address growing concerns about energy consumption, electricity providers are using advanced technologies and devices such as sensors, meters, digital controls and analytics tools to better monitor and manage peaks and troughs in power consumption and generation. With a higher level of insight, utilities can reduce the risk of system failures and blackouts and manage demand more optimally.
Forward-thinking countries like Brazil are making smart grid investments to help improve the reliability of electric infrastructure, and enable economic growth and environmental sustainability. With current electricity demand projections, Brazil's smart grid investments are estimated to reach $36.6 billion by 2022.
In an effort to monitor energy consumption, add resiliency to the power grid, and improve customer service, Brazil is working to deploy approximately 63 million smart meters by 2021. With this goal in mind, CPFL Energia Holdings, Brazil's largest privately owned energy provider, is working with IBM on a smart meter data management project to identify energy faults and losses, help allocate outages and disconnect services faster.
The meters and sensors, which allow utilities to monitor usage remotely and in real time, can detect peaks in demand that are often indicative of an illegal hookup. In Brazil, it's estimated that as much as 20 percent of electricity output is illegally tapped from power lines. By tracking consumption, these devices can help to ensure reliability and detect loss or theft.
As host to the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, Rio de Janeiro will be welcoming an increased number of people that could put a strain on energy resources and affect the city's economic sustainability. The Rio Operations Center - a command center designed to integrate, share and analyze information about key city systems - will help the city monitor and manage the delivery of energy services to citizens and tourists.
In addition to existing smart grid projects, Brazil is also focusing on changing the way power is generated with a goal to have 75 percent of electricity come from renewable energy sources by 2030.
The future of the cities of tomorrow lies in the hands of those who manage them today. Innovative countries like Brazil are leading the way by integrating advanced technologies to monitor energy usage, changing consumption behaviors, delivering better services to their citizens and improving the long-term sustainability of their economies.