Powering up Smart Cities

Lithium-ion batteries are proving to be the reliable option for optimizing the usage of excess energy and renewable energy.

Providing the perfect power solution for the world’s growing number of positive energy smart cities.

Infographics - Toshiba lithium-ion battery SCiB™

As global urbanization and digitization continue to rise, the world is turning to smart energy management to meet rising energy demands. But power production from renewables can fluctuate wildly with more energy produced than is required at the time.

We now need reliable batteries to store and help deliver power to an increasing range of devices and growing number of city dwellers. Without a solution, we could be plunged back into the digital dark ages.

However, conventional lithium-ion battery solutions have problems with regards to safety, stable operation in harsh environments, charging time and their life cycle.

This situation is exacerbated in smart cities. In a smart city, such surplus power needs to be stored not just at outlying power plants, but within the city walls, its buildings, vehicles and devices to rapidly expedite the fluctuating power demands of city residents.

Unlike traditional cities, power consumption must also be adapted to the rate of production, which is not always practical as many smart cities rely on renewable energy sources.

The Lyon-Confluence Urban Development is a pioneering example of how we can use next-generation batteries and create a sustainable smart city of the future.

Once complete, the project will double the size of Lyon’s city center, making it a territory of 150 hectares that contains a range of smart building technologies, electric mobility and renewable energy solutions.

Etienne Vignali, Project Manager of Sustainable Development at the Lyon Confluence Urban Development, explained: “To manage better the energy in the neighborhood, in the Lyon Confluence Urban Project we try to work on different topics [including] the improvement of energy performance of new buildings, the improvement of energy performance of old and existing buildings, the development of electric mobility services, the use of data to monitor and assess the actual energy performance and improve it, and to produce and to increase the local production of renewable energy.”

For example, the Hikari site contains three buildings and is a positive energy block, producing more energy each year than it consumes. It uses a range of technologies to achieve this positive energy status and a range of photovoltaics to generate energy. But the office spaces and residential houses contained in the block consume different amounts of energy depending on the time of day, or day of the week.

Toshiba provided its unique lithium-ion batteries, SCiB™ to the Hikari buildings. An efficient and safe battery system is vital for such projects, according to Vignali, who added: “By using the battery in the Hikari building provided by Toshiba, it was for us a really essential component to make this building block a positive energy block.”

Batteries everywhere

The demand for advanced lithium-ion batteries is not limited to buildings. Batteries must also be used across multiple smart city applications, especially in urban mobility and transport, which is a crucial component for overall efficient energy management and sustainable development.

To achieve this, the battery characteristics must meet the needs of these different application areas. For example, high power batteries are required if a large current must be charged and discharged, such as during regenerative vehicle braking. High energy batteries are also needed for applications requiring large energy capacities, such as electric vehicles and stationary storage systems.

As such, smart cities need feature-rich and versatile battery cells to meet the needs of these diverse applications. Toshiba’s unique lithium-ion batteries, SCiB™, for example, use highly safe lithium titanium oxide, which provides a lower risk of ignition or explosion, can achieve an 80% charge in six minutes, remain operational in temperatures of -30°C and have a cycle lifespan of more than 20,000 charge/discharge cycles.

Toshiba’s battery system using SCiB™ is the first in the world to be certified European Norm safety standards for rolling stock. Apart from that, Toshiba is also a supplier in several European electric bus initiatives, with SCiB™ installed in several buses that run throughout Europe. Their lithium-ion batteries meet the challenging needs of urban mobility.

With 88 smart cities predicted to exist by 2025 and, reliable lithium-ion batteries like this will need to continue to innovate to meet the needs of our increasingly smart society and realize the benefits of renewable sources.

Smart societies need smart energy solutions. Advanced lithium-ion batteries have the potential to provide an adaptable, flexible and scalable power supply, unlocking the future of our smart cities and ensuring a sustainable tomorrow.