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GrowSmarter, innovative solutions for smart cities

The GrowSmarter project seeks to find innovative solutions for the smart cities of the future. 

By 2050 70% of the population will live in cities. And, according to the OECD, this population growth and economic development will have unprecedented social and environmental consequences. This is one of the challenges that led to the creation of GrowSmarter.

The GrowSmarter project forms part of the EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the aim is to develop innovative solutions for the smart cities of the future. The idea is to create a European economy that is more socially, environmentally and economically sustainable, by putting into practice innovative technologies and solutions.

Three cities have been selected to lead this transformation: Barcelona, Cologne and Stockholm. These are called the "Lighthouse Cities"; major cities that will develop twelve smart solutions over the five-year project in three areas: technology, energy and mobility. These solutions will be launched in various points of the city, from the urban centre to semi-urban or industrial areas, thus ensuring a representative sample of the cities.

 

Sustainable mobility in Barcelona

Our involvement in the project focuses on implementing sustainable mobility and communication technology solutions in Barcelona that contribute towards improving the management of a truly smart city.

“We have to develop useful initiatives for the city. Providing society with useful information that will help to improve the lives of people is a priority for us in this project”, commented Carlos Rodríguez, Project Manager at GrowSmarter Endesa.

In terms of sustainable mobility, we have installed five FASTO fast-charging points, allowing almost all types of electric vehicles to be charged. Apart from these five charging points, we have also installed another six V2G (Vehicle to Grid) Bi-Directional chargers.  The aim of the V2G is to test electric vehicles as potential energy storage with real customers. This system not only enables energy to be supplied to electric vehicles, it also enables customers to use the energy stored in the vehicle for use in their homes or in their companies.

Two chargers installed by Endesa in Barcelona

The “Internet of Things” benefiting the community and general public

The value of this smart city project lies in that it is now not only about developing new technologies but about putting them into practice and connecting them with one another. Barcelona will have five transformer substations equipped with IoT technology (Internet of things). By using this technology, we will not only improve the operability of the transformer substation and the safety of workers, but we also want to obtain information to contribute towards improving the management of the city.

New smoke detectors are being installed, together with alarms to prevent robberies or flooding. A mobile app will enable all the transformer substations to be controlled and monitored on a real-time basis. “The long-term aim is to be able to predict incidents and thus act in a preventive manner", added the project manager at Endesa.

The manner in which Endesa’s assets can be used is also being studied, in order to facilitate communications between other types of facilities, such as other utilities’ meters, as well as implementing low frequency communications (LoRa technology), a technology that offers greater scope and low maintenance costs.

“Providing society with useful information that will help to improve the lives of people is a priority for us in this project.”

 Carlos Rodríguez, Project Manager at GrowSmarter Endesa

The target: smart cities, sustainable cities

This Smart city project has set itself ambitious targets. Europe expects to reduce energy consumption by 60% and transport emissions by another 60%. GrowSmarter can generate significant benefits not only for the environment or the economy but for society as a whole. In this regard, one of the first areas in which work is being carried out, although still in early and experimental stages, is to try to use information to benefit non-profit organisations, high-risk groups and people with difficulties such as those with hearing or mobility impairments.

Growsmarter is a model to be followed with regard to the organisation of the smart cities of the future. It is, above all, a project that involves collaboration and teamwork. The 38 partners that form part of the project are testament to this. These include, apart from Endesa, the IESE, Philips, IBM, Schneider, Abertis or IREC.

Around thirty European cities, including Graz, Malta and Oporto are keeping a close eye on these “lighthouse cities” so they can learn from their experiences and integrate some of their innovative solutions. We will have to wait around three years to see the results "Endesa has a clear commitment to this project and we are all working proactively to make a success of it", added Carlos Rodríguez. At the moment, the smart cities’ “lighthouse” is guiding the rest of the cities to ensure a smart energy future.

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