In 1950, only 29 percent of the world's population lived in large urban areas. Today, more than 50 percent of the Earth's inhabitants live in cities, and according to the latest forecasts, the number could rise to 75 percent by 2050. As much as 10 percent of the world's population is concentrated in 20 megacities, with an increasing trend that is triggering one of the biggest challenges for the future: the integration of infrastructures, services and technologies in order to create sustainable cities designed to accommodate the needs of their inhabitants.
Smart Cities were created to meet these needs, implementing a series of energy efficiency measures, including zero emissions mobility, efficient public lighting, buildings equipped with devices that reduce energy consumption and renewable resources integrated into networks. Such a system allows citizens to manage their own consumption responsibly and feed the grid with the energy they produce.
The Enel Group is a pioneer in the development of smart city pilot projects in Italy (Genoa, Bari, Cosenza, L'Aquila), Spain (Malaga, Barcelona), Brazil (Buzios) and Chile (Santiago). The areas in which the Group's Smart Cities are being created are characterised by a series of profound differences. The biggest global challenge for the future is to apply "smart" practices to each context, according to its infrastructures, regulatory frameworks and culture.
One example is the development of electric water-taxis and boats in the popular seaside resort of Búzios. On the other hand, Santiago's Ciudad Empresarial requires a more "business-oriented" approach: the development of electric mobility and smart sensors for street lighting aims to increase the safety and sustainability of transporting people and goods.
Bari and Cosenza, as well as Barcelona and Malaga, have densely populated urban areas, in addition to the typical needs of medium and large European cities with large buildings and mobility issues. In L'Aquila, the Group is involved in the application of smart technologies to facilitate the reconstruction of the city after its having been struck by an earthquake.
Enel has brought to Milan's Expo 2015 all of the technologies that it has developed over the years, creating a tangible example of the city of the future, where visitors can experience its benefits first-hand. The exhibition area, which is comparable to a city of one hundred thousand inhabitants, is the biggest smart city in the world: digital energy networks, efficient public lighting, zero-emission transport, storage systems, buildings equipped with sensors and devices to rationalise consumption.
At Expo 2015, Enel is demonstrating that the city of the future is not just a dream, but a concrete and attainable reality. The experience gained at the event will also be extremely useful for future projects, having directly tested the integration of the latest technologies.