Implementing evolving technologies at an affordable rate and moving toward zero emissions is the biggest benefit of being a smart city, according to a report by IDTechEx.
How smart cities are adapting to constantly advancing systems and technologies, what they might look like in the future, and how they will benefit is studied in the report, which analyzes smart cities through 2042. It especially sees communities taking advantage of hydrogen and renewable electricity, smart materials and transportation as the report says advanced technology hardware for smart cities will reach $1.7 trillion by 2042.
The report says energy independence and renewable electricity are currently the easiest for cities to obtain because the technology already exists.
An example the report gave of a smart city was Neom in Saudi Arabia, which it says is the first to use technology fueled by data and interaction.
Neom is a business zone in the country and is developing a zero carbon city called the Line, which will extend more than 105 miles and be powered by 100% clean energy. Neom also has plans for a manufacturing center built on clean and sustainable energy, especially with the use of hydrogen. A 2 gigawatt electrolysis plant for green hydrogen is currently in the works there.
The IDTechEx report says hydrogen and electricity will make up 21% of the technology needed for smart cities by 2042.
Hydrogen will also play a role in energy storage, which is expected to surge in coming years, to help add reliability to electricity grids, especially during times of year when wind and solar power may not be as reliable, the report says. A newly formed group called the Long Duration Energy Storage Council says up to 140 terawatts of long duration energy storage is needed by 2040 to hit international efficiency goals.
The report says technologies will continue to advance in areas like batteries, where lithium-ion batteries could be replaced with greener and more affordable sodium-ion batteries.
It mentions smart materials, which it says will make up 23% of new technology, going into building more efficient buildings as well as tackling more sustainable materials for products such as cement. Automated public transportation, including air and marine travel, and full electric vehicle infrastructure are other elements cities can strive for in order to reach zero emissions, the report says.
Last year, Earth.org made a list of the top seven smart cities, which includes New York, Seoul and Singapore, with smart systems, energy efficiency and lower emissions at the heart of all those communities’ efforts.