Top 10 2015 Smart Cities Energy Stories – part 1

by Alberto Quintanilla

2015 has been another year of dramatic change in the energy landscape. Technologies such as renewable energy or electromobility continue their unstoppable growth, and new organizational models in the energy business are beginning to happen. We have made a selection of the top events last year related to energy and the grid that have influenced the future life in cities.

EXPO Milano 201510. World Expo, Smart Grids year

A World Expo was held in Milano in 2015. Enel provided a Smart Grid to efficiently realize load control, energy flow optimization, integration of renewable energy and storage, and lighting management.

Probably just a promotional announcement, but also a sign of how Smart Grids became ubiquitous in our lives.

9. YieldcCos

YieldCos were a great financial instrument, extensively used by renewable energy companies since 2013 to fund their future plants developments. They went public in stock markets and the earnings were used by parent firms to pay for the new plants. No need for banks.

Everything worked fine until Fall 2015. Losses went as far as 50% from July for some of them, investments rates downgraded. Is this the end of Yieldcos? As always, maybe it is not a matter of the tool but the management. Could some parent companies be misusing their yieldcos? The bubble popped, let’s see if they recover (maybe with the help of ITC and PTC extensions).

8. US demand response court ruling order 745

Some more bad news in 2015. US Supreme Court finally ruled against Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) order 745. This order basically allowed the administrations or the utilities to pay for demand response. In my opinion, cancelling Order 745 (and any other attempt to limit demand response) delays progress toward a more efficient grid and a more sustainable economy.

Progress is unstoppable though. A pivot to real-time prices for consumers could mitigate damage and will end up as a better solution for harnessing flexible demand.

7. Tesla new Model X and GigaFactory

Tesla shows up in our ranking for the second time. It is not for one single action, I want to acknowledge the growing importance of the electric vehicle in city mobility and Tesla´s leading role in its expansion. Not happy with that, they are horizontally hopping to the energy storage sector, and shaking it hard. In 2015 they launched a new model (Tesla Model X) and announced the erection of their new Gigafactory in Nevada to boost their capacity up to 500k cars a year, and produce lithium batteries. In the future, we hope they solve some issues like their still not booming sales figures and the unaffordable prices of their cars.

6. Doubts on China’s commitment with green energy and the future of their cities: they are burning more coal than ever

Not all are good news. In the context of their own financial crisis, emerging countries struggle to go green. However, this is not always possible. Despite their bet for green energy, last year China reported it is burning 17% more coal in their power plants and factories than they previously admitted. No need to say what this means for air quality in cities and the health of Chinese people. We hope it turns much better in 2016.

Next week you will discover the top 5!

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