5,5 ECTS credits.
The energy is crucial for our lives. The modern society and our quality of life are based on the extensive use of energy. Today, there is a continuous objective of reducing the power consumption without losing quality of life. At the same time, the presence of clean energy resources is becoming more necessary every day. A mix of conventional electrical generators (gas, hydroelectric, nuclear,…) together with a very spread generation based on wind, solar, bio-mass and others will provide our future energy. Since the amount of energy will be higher to power new loads such as electrical cars, it is crucial to improve the efficiency of all the equipment. Moreover, the presence of millions of sensors and detectors that will monitor and control our environment will force to use new forms of supplying energy. Especial attention should be paid to buildings and electric cars since they are very energy demanding loads.
This module is divided in several topics. The fundamentals of each topic will be taught by distinguish professionals covering the basic concepts and the key issues.
The objective of reducing CO2 emissions in the future only can be achieved combining clean energy resources and reducing the energy consumption. In the last years a great effort has been done in increasing the efficiency of home appliances and office equipment with initiatives such as Energy Star. Now the efforts are focused on lightning since it represents a great percentage of the electrical energy consumption. However, the implantation of measures for energy efficiency requires great investments that are not easy to obtain. Long-term financial plans should be designed to face this challenge.
The look for the energy of the future (clean, secure and cheap) is still on the way. In the meantime, there is a great development of the technology around the renewable energies (solar, biofuels, biomass,…). From the technique to the Regulations and masket, renewable energy sources that can be integrated in the city will be covered.
Smart Grids and dc grids
The current electricity grid is based on AC distribution. This generation of electricity is based on rotating machines that produces an AC current being the high power plants located far from the cities. This technology is mature and today’s efforts are focused in the integration of the small, distributed and non-easily-predictable renewables energies such as wind and solar (Smart Grids). An interesting alternative arises for the cities: the massive use of small photovoltaic panels (PV) in every roof allows the generation of energy at the point it will be used. The energy generated by PVs is DC and there is a chance of saving a lot of energy if it is directly used by the home appliances, skipping the standard conversion to AC.
A great part of the energy is used in buildings. The urban context, the neighbourhood attributes, the climate conditions plays an important role on energy consumption of buildings. Zero Net-Energy buildings are becoming a reality and they will be analyzed reviewing the main constrains and trade-offs. The presence of electrical dc grids with storage could be one of the key factors to reduce energy consumption in the future.
The mobility in the future cities will be based on electrical vehicles (cars, motorbikes, bikes, …). The electrical grid in the cities was not designed knowing the huge amount of energy required to recharge all these vehicles. A lot of new infrastructure should be built to allow the connection of the loads and also at the point of generation. In addition to this, the energy stored in the batteries of the vehicles can be returned to grid (vehicle to grid) to provide the extra energy during the peak consumption hours. The presence of thousands or millions of batteries connected to the grid will play a very important role to stabilize the grid considering the variable nature of the load and the variable generation of the renewable energies.
Wireless power and energy harvesting
Sensors will be very common. We will use sensors to measure environmental indoor and outdoor physical variables such as temperature, humidity, wind, CO2, nitrogen oxides, … but also to measure traffic density or to detect the presence of people or free parking places. All these elements should be powered and in many cases the connection to the conventional grid may penalize their deployment. The alternatives are twofold: to harvest energy from ambient (radio waves, movement, solar…) or to supply the energy in a wireless mode. These two alternatives are being widely explored in these years because they will have a great impact in the success of the sensors networks.