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Smart cities need to think smart

Carlos Pone on why energy efficiency is at the heart of smart development

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Carlos Pone, ABB's CEO of Southern Gulf, Kuwait and Pakistan
Carlos Pone, ABB's CEO of Southern Gulf, Kuwait and Pakistan

Carlos Pone, ABB's CEO of Southern Gulf, Kuwait and Pakistan, tells us why energy efficiency is at the heart of smart development.

‘Smart city’ is the flavour of the season the world over. Cities in developed, developing and emerging countries are today aspiring to earn the smart city tag.

We, at ABB, endorse the vision of a‘smart city’but firmly believe that for cities to be smart – they first need to be energy efficient.

Recently, we took part in PowerGen Middle East – the trade show that took place in Abu Dhabi in October, where we took the opportunity to meet industry executives with technology that can reduce energy consumption by almost 30% and hence help them plan for a development that is energy efficient.

Why be energy efficient? (apart from obviously bringing down the fuel bills). Well, faced with the urgency of climate change, our best hope of significantly reducing emissions is to use energy more efficiently.

Estimates suggest energy efficiency improvements could deliver half the cuts in emissions needed to slow global warming over the next 25 years, but by using energy more efficiently these precious resources will last longer and will also save money.

Variations in energy efficiency across the world give a sense of what can be achieved with today’s technologies. The most efficient economies generate almost 16 times more GDP with the same amount of energy than the least efficient.

So where exactly can ABB help?

Power plants consume 5% of the electricity they generate. This can be cut by 10 to 30% by optimising operations and auxiliary systems using sophisticated control systems and energy-efficient equipment. In transmission and distribution, ABB technologies enable more power to travel over existing networks and reduce power losses.

Apart from this, we, as a company, have also joined hands with the United Nations to help industries reduce energy usage.

ABB will provide expertise on energy efficient motors and transformers to help governments devise policies that accelerate energy savings.

Electric motors account for about 28% of global electricity consumption. Many motors are bigger than they need to be and most are running at full speed, even when they don’t have to. Energy savings quickly add up when high-efficiency motors are used in combination with devices that adapt their speed to the task at hand – known as variable-speed drives – because the energy used to run a motor over its lifetime costs 100 times more than the motor itself.

For their part, transformers account for about 3% of global electricity consumption and their number in emerging markets is set to almost triple by 2030. Since the most efficient transformers consume 80% less electricity than the least efficient, the opportunities for savings are vast.

So with greater awareness today, cities now have to first understand where their energy is being spent and invest in products and technology that help them be truly ‘smart’ and sustainable for the future.

We are also very proud that Abu Dhabi, apart from many of its smart initiatives, is also going to play host to ABB- backed Solar Impulse 2 – which is the first solar powered,fuel-less plane. Giving wings to the country’s solar industry and reinforcing the belief in renewable energyby playing host to a plane that’s going to fly on solar power is truly a ‘smart idea’.

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