One element of the smart city that has been developing rapidly in recent times is energy. So, Gemalto wanted to look at its role today and how it will evolve in the years ahead.

It goes without saying that the efficient use of energy is critical to life in a city. It’s something we often take for granted, but our increasing demand for energy means that improving how we manage it is essential. Not only is demand in our homes going up as the population grows (according to the UN, almost a third of the world’s population will live in urban settlements by 2030) and the number of devices we use gets larger, but other fundamental aspects of daily life are changing our relationship with energy.

Take electric vehicles for instance. They’re seen as a key part of our fight against climate change – helping to reduce carbon emissions. But if everyone who owns a vehicle today switched to an electric alternative, and then we all plugged them in to charge after getting home at 6pm, the resulting surge would be much for our current infrastructure to handle. So smart IoT technology is helping to solve problems like these, as well as giving consumers greater insight and control over how much energy they consume.

Many consumers around the world will already be familiar with the concept of smart meters. The devices are designed to communicate directly between your home’s electricity or gas meter and your energy supplier. This real-time connection means that consumers can see exactly how much energy they are consuming, and the resulting cost. So whether it’s turning the heating up on a cold day, or simply switching lights off that aren’t being used, consumers can take an informed decision on what to use and how they can behave more cost efficiently. At the same time, Utilities can offer accurate billing, according to real-time energy consumption, and carefully control and balance demand and supply.

The renewed focus on energy efficiency and the potentially devastating effects of climate change have also led to increasing use of renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind or wave power. That’s good news for the quality of the air we breathe, but does pose challenges from its unpredictable nature. It was relatively easy to understand how much energy a fossil fuel power station would output and when. And this is not just an industrial concern. With a big push to integrate renewable energy generation into consumer homes, it could soon be the case that many more of us depend on our own energy generation, with potential surplus energy to either store or sell back into the grid.

This complexity requires a clever solution, and that’s where smart grids come into play. By connecting every smart meter, every solar panel, every electric vehicle and every other energy-related assets, a smart grid can analyze countless data points to help manage the flow of energy available and needed  at the right time, to the right places, to ultimately run sustainable and efficient smart grids.

Of course, energy grids are a critical part of national infrastructure and keeping them safe is essential. Building and connecting smart grids in this way requires robust security that can protect against hacking or cyber-attacks – whether they’re designed to steal user data, tamper with energy consumption and billing or directly attack the infrastructure itself.

Guillaume Djourabtchi, IoT Services Marketing Director, speaking about securing the grid, at the European Utility Week, in Vienna (Nov 2018)

For more on the role of smart energy and smart cities within the wider IoT security landscape, head over to our dedicated microsite here: