(image from the Think Global, Act Local campaign)
Home of the future, or what can I do to automate? I had the honor of hearing a speaker from the City of Amsterdam last year. He talked about their alternative power project, their electricity plugs on city streets for electric cars and a few interesting experiments they had conducted. What I found interesting were the things they learned about power and people. First, they had installed solar on roofs, given people smart appliances and electric cars (this was done by neighborhoods to control costs but also reduce variables). The thing they learned that I found most incredible was the reality of power. During the day most houses ended up moving further and further down the use vs. production scale. The reality of transactional energy was the ability to pull that overage in production into the traditional energy grid. The other thing they learned (and the speaker was hilarious, so this was presented very well) was that when people get home in electric cars, they wish to charge them. In many cases, people weren’t home until the sun had already set, which meant the charging of their electric cars caused a spike in the grid as they plugged in their cars.
That remains the interesting reality that most cities will face as they move towards transactional energy. The other reality for most of the cities that will be interesting is the reality of regulation. What country is going to lead the way with a zoning regulation that says if your building is over ten stories, 40% or more of the roof has to be solar panels? Just that in a city with a million people would reduce the impact of buildings significantly. Add to that the reality of transaction energy (over production is shared back to the grid) and there is energy moving around cities of the world at a much lower cost than production.
All of this moving us towards the smart home of tomorrow. A self-energy is producing home that doesn’t require power grids as its only supply. With smart appliances that sip power instead of gulp, with electric cars and effectively a future state where we use less energy. Or better yet, we use the renewable energy sources that reduce the impact of humanity on our envinronment. The future of home automation has already begun in many European Cities. The question is who will be the first to have the ten story rule?