How Semiconductors Make Cities Sustainable

Why do they matter? / Why should I care? / June 10, 2014

Cities are getting bigger: according to a recent study from Oxford Economics, by 2030 the world’s largest 750 cities will see a population increase of 410 million, requiring 260 million new homes and more than 1,770 million square feet of extra office space.[1] City leaders know they must take action to reduce urban sprawl, upgrade infrastructure, maximize the use of natural resources, and—perhaps most important—get much smarter about energy use.

Perhaps they should look to Barcelona for guidance. The city aims to be the world’s leading hyperconnected, zero-emissions metropolis. To do it, Barcelona is depending on a range of cutting-edge technologies, including solar power, sensor networks, smart grids and meters, LED lighting, and electric transportation—all with semiconductors at their core. As a result of these efforts, in March the European Commission named Barcelona Europe’s Capital of Innovation, for its commitment to using new technologies to benefit its citizens.[2] Some examples of current projects include:

  • Solar water heating. An ordinance passed in 2000 requires new buildings of a certain size to use solar energy to heat their water.[3]
  • Smart streets. Barcelona’s SIIR project (Integral Solution for Urban Infrastructures) aims to reduce the city’s lighting costs by roughly 40%.[4] So far, 50 streets and more than 1,000 lampposts have been upgraded with LED lighting, and 50% of the city’s lighting power can be controlled remotely.
  • Electric vehicles. Barcelona is committed to promoting electric vehicles and has built a network of more than 260 charging stations across its metro region—the goal is for every citizen to have a charging station within 5 minutes of home. Barcelona also boasts more than 500 hybrid taxis, and fleets of electric cars and motorbikes available for rental. The city’s LIVE (Logistics for the Implementation of the Electric Vehicle) invites companies and innovators to collaborate on electric vehicle projects.[5]

Getting smart about energy isn’t just good for the planet, it’s imperative to sustain growth and prosperity for all people. And it can’t happen without semiconductors.



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