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This lecture focused on the requirements for achieving low-carbon societies based on specific examples from the trials and achievements of "Smart Cities" in various parts of the world.
Ms. Ann Burns
APAC Utilities Lead, Accenture plc October 7, 2010
The world is certainly heading toward low-carbon societies. From a political standpoint, various stimulus measures are being used to promote low-carbon societies. China and the U.S. have overwhelmingly made the largest investments in Smart Grids, followed in order by Japan, Korea and Spain. Also, cities throughout the world, including London, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Shanghai and Singapore have set various goals for reducing CO2 emissions. For example, Seoul, Korea is attempting to change passenger cars into electric vehicles (EV) and low-emission vehicles. EV technologies, in particular, have seen rapid development in the 5 years since 2005.
How do consumers feel about this? There are some who say that there are so many products, they don't know what to choose. There are some who already recycle in some form within their daily lives and don't know what else to do. In Japan, 48% of the population say that if it means added costs for home energy consumption, they don't want it. However, 88% of the population say that if utility fees can be reduced by improving energy systems, they're for it. If it adds some sort of convenience to their lives, it'll lead consumers to participate in achieving a low-carbon society.
I'd like to present some case examples of Smart Cities that were launched around the world. For example, in Amsterdam, Holland, with a target of reducing the amount of CO2 emissions by 40%, ideas were gathered from a total of 150 submissions in 2008 for discussion based on four areas: lifestyles, work, transportation and public spaces, in a move that was aimed at achieving new and innovative systems. Then, as concrete activities among those areas, 500 to 700 homes were selected as monitors. A Smart Monitor and energy-saving appliances were installed in each home to verify just how much the people's lifestyles would change. Compared to when only Smart Monitors were installed, the introduction of energy-saving appliances resulted in more efficient CO2 emission reduction. By using energy-saving appliances, the effects that are displayed on the Smart Monitors could actually be felt. This shows that when awareness changes, lifestyles tend to change as well. Other approaches were also conducted, such as replacing garbage trucks with EVs and using home lighting based on clean energy. By combining various technologies, the results improved as well. In the beginning, many of the monitor participants were skeptical about whether or not these efforts would produce results, but as many as 90% of the participants eventually stated that they were happy to have participated.
The world's most advanced city is being constructed in Portugal. For example, the road pavement is specially treated to allow it to use the friction heat that is generated by cars traveling on it and natural sunlight as energy. The roads are also equipped with sensors that measure the amount of traffic. There are two points that are especially interesting in Portugal's approach. The first is the funding method. In addition to standard project financing, money is raised by green funds and by consortium financing, where participating corporations provide services. The second point is the application of various technology-based intellectual properties developed for the Smart City concept as business operations.
In order to achieve a Smart City, it's necessary to involve consumers at an early stage. And consumers seek things that don't take time and effort. They want to be able to do things using only a single device, they want it to be easy to use, and they want to be able to save money by using it. On top of that, consumers easily get tired of things. It's necessary to think of ideas that'll hold their interest. One way to do this is to work on a large scale. Standards must be open, it must be expandable, and the technical learning curve must be short. It's also important not to excessively build up consumer expectations and to offer incentives such as cheap costs. In addition, it's essential to do things that are meaningful to consumers. I'm from England, and currently, Tesco, a major grocery store, is selling energy. They sell PB (private brand) electricity and gasoline. I like to focus on situations like this -- a brand that's recognized in another field developing an energy business. Try engaging consumers by using a variety of methods. Be sure to receive feedback as often as possible from consumers while you're developing your strategy. Create something new while working hand-in-hand with consumers, instead of always doing the same things over and over again.
In order to achieve a Smart City, it's necessary to receive public funding, to clarify exactly what it is you want to do, to create projects that multiple industries can be involved in, and to establish clear proposals of what you can do to change consumer behavior. Again, it's important to think on a large scale. For example, Apple's iPhone is now being used by a great number of people. If you develop a product that can become a mainstream fixture in the market, it can easily enter the lives of regular people. One of Japan's major strengths is its strong local market. Many cities and countries around the world, such as New Mexico, Amsterdam and China, are seeking to establish partnerships with Japan. I urge you to create a technical showcase for achieving low-carbon societies, demonstrate the technologies to the world, and relay that lifestyle vision to consumers.