In Smart Cities: The Future of Urban Areas, Part 1, I introduced the smart city project and its realization in Guadalajara city, Mexico, where an urban area has been dedicated to the digital media industry (see Figure 1).
Guadalajara is the second biggest city in Mexico, but the biggest city of that country, Mexico City, is moving in the direction of integration of smart energy harvesting technology into the infrastructures of the city: The new airport of Mexico City will be built with this strategy and completed in 2018. It is rumored to be the most sustainable airport in the whole world (see Figure 2).
The entire airport will be up to 100% powered by solar energy, by mean of energy collectors on the top of the building which is free from tubes and cables that are inserted into the floor. The energy will be managed by a smart grid and the illumination will be compliant with the LEED Platinum standard, hence a sustainable airport like this could be an optimal solution for a really smart city.
An example of energy harvesting system, composed entirely by ICs for the power management and for the energy conversion, which is powered totally by a renewable energy source, is shown in Figure 3:
(Image: ST on line)
The system of Figure 3 is totally based on IC components for the power conversion and for the energy management, hence the reliability of the system depends on the reliability of the single blocks for the power conversion and the same applies to the effectiveness of energy conversion and of the power management process. In particular the energetic sustainability of the entire building, which is powered by solar energy, has a strong dependence from the efficiency of the conversion of the renewable power source, solar energy in this case, into electric power.
Recently there has been a very interesting result in this direction, accomplished by a team of University of Maryland, which found an interesting solution based on a cellulose substrate to increase the efficiency of solar cells:
(Image: ACS publications)
The integrated circuits are nowadays the components of smart systems for the harvesting, the conversion and the supply of energy from renewable sources, to guarantee the energetic sustainability of buildings, whatever it is their dimension and destination, public or private.
The energy can be managed by mean of smart grids, and all the smart systems could be connected together into a cloud system integrated into the structure of the smart city.
Do you think the smart cities will be the future model for all the biggest cities in the world? Do you think that a smart city could be a more comfortable and safe place to live, created by means of the modern electronics technology?