Norway’s Trondheim to become energy ‘Smart City’ in experiment that will be watched by world

(Illustrasjon: Trondheim Smart City)

Publish date: August 31, 2009

Written by: Ola Innset

Translated by: Charles Digges

The Norwegian city of Trondheim, in cooperation with Bellona and German engineering giant Siemens, will cut its energy use by 20 percent without a loss to the population of their high living standard, making it a “Smart City” – an apparent nod to the buzz phrase “Smart Grid."

“This is a pioneering project,” said Ane Brunvoll, Bellona’s energy department head of the plan for the central Norwegian city of 260,000.

“The world’s major cities cover only 0.4 percent of the earth’s surface, but account for 80 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, cities are where you find the biggest potential for making energy use more effective,” she said.

In American political parlance born of the Obama Administration, “Smart Grids” and “Smart Technology” are electrical distribution grids that run off a variety of power production units, and are geared toward drawing power from the cheapest available energy sources that are linked to the grid.

A single household, for instance, might run a clothes washer from a solar energy source, while lamps and televisions might  use power distributed from hydro-electrical sources.

Such “Smart Grids” are also intended to anticipate where weaknesses of various power sources will occur. For example, wind power would be compensated for by solar power or biomass thermal electric generators on still days.

“Smart” technology has its sceptics and supporters in the United States where such extensive revamping of the country’s electrical infrastructure is a hard sell in times of plummeting employment rates, giant government sponsored corporate bailouts and while billions more dollars are being heaped on yet new stimulus plans.

The Trondheim project – and its success or failure – will have international repercussions as the entire world struggles with the dual necessity of preventing financial collapse while saving the planet from the worst scalding climate change is predicted to dole out.

Trondheim to be a model
The energy effectiveness report for Trondheim Smart City is under preparation and will show how Trondheim can reduce its energy consumption through the application of smart energy use. The idea is that a number of “Smart Cities” will be established worldwide on the model now being developed in Trondheim.

The Trondheim model will focus on five chief areas: construction, industrial activity, production and distribution of power, mobility and street lighting.  

An important par of the project is the website, where ordinary households and businesses can register themselves to get information on how they can use energy more intelligently.

Good news
“By adopting technologies that already exist, a city like Trondheim can save as much as 20 percent on energy consumption without any need to change its standard of living,” said Otto Frøseth, Siemens’ division director and local head in Trondheim.

“We will not actually notice it at all, except in lower electricity bills,” he said.

“This is good news for municipalities, for industry and homeowners, and not the least for the environment, but it requires that all cities make an effort,” said Frøseth

Negotiating engagement
“We are very pleased about the good cooperation we have with Siemens and Bellona on this project,” said Trondheim mayor, Rita Ottervik.

“In the course of the next two or three years, the objective is to take up a significant part of the energy savings potential we have mapped out in the Energy Effectiveness Report for Trondheim SmartCity,” she said.

“This assumes that the municipality, the residents and the business community will do their part.  The project therefore is to engage the residents and businesses of Trondheim,” said Ottervik.