Urban energy; Urban energy;

Urban energy

The way we power our urban lives can and must change. Cities require smarter and more resilient grids, able to meet growing demand for clean energy. Arup is helping every kind of city to make this vital transition.

Paula Kirk

Paula Kirk

Director, Climate and Carbon Change

The way we power our urban lives can and must change. Cities require smarter and more resilient grids, able to meet growing demand for clean energy. Arup is helping every kind of city to make this vital transition.

As cities respond to climate change, opportunities for new energy infrastructure, such as hydrogen networks, are emerging. To support the transition of energy networks in urban areas, we help clients to develop the strategy and target required investments that will deliver decarbonisation. And, as energy generation becomes more diverse, we help clients move from analogue to digital systems to manage real-time data and make smarter decisions about energy dispatch and use.

Considering end uses

In much of the world, people have become used to energy being continually available – and to giving relatively little consideration to how much they consume for their buildings, industrial processes, transport and other uses. So, how do we change attitudes to demand and usage?

To support the transition to net zero, we help clients future-proof projects such as new and retrofit building developments to incorporate demand-responsive characteristics. We’ve worked for large tech companies, enabling them to generate, store and manage their own energy – being totally off-grid. Urban transport consumes significant quantities of energy. We’re working with cities including Los Angeles and Boston in the US and Manchester in the UK to electrify bus fleets. To do this, we look at the entire picture for urban energy planning – from optimal storage locations for grid connection to charging infrastructure along routes.

Featured project

Providing clean and reliable power to the City of Santa Monica

California continues to feel the efftects of climate change and energy resiliency is a critical priority, whilst considering the energy transition. We've been supporting the city of Santa Monica to study the feasibility of a microgrid to support community energy needs. As the lead consultant, we conducted an 18-month study and produced a multi-user feasibility analysis. examining socioeconomic, financial, and technical factors, as well as the knowledge transfer plan for the City.

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Focusing on resilience

Resilience is a key priority for urban energy. Our experience demonstrates that system resilience requires a balance between supply, demand and sustainability. Energy demand is no longer a passive end-point in a chain of energy supply - it is a dynamic, interactive part of an increasingly complex, interdependent and interactive whole system.

Extreme climatic events such as tornadoes, dry weather fires and flooding not only threaten our energy systems, but also pose downstream risks to the systems and societal cohesion on which secure energy provision depends. Cyber-attacks and ransomware are being targeted at energy systems every day. And as regulation and commercial models develop, they also have the potential to result in unintended resilience consequences.

We have a team of specialists who focus solely on urban energy resilience. We’ve worked with major cities around the world, including with partners such as the C40, to advise on the most locally relevant strategy for urban energy resilience.  

Featured project

National Grid

Resilience is a critical factor for energy networks, and operators must contend with the risk of black outs caused by extreme weather and other growing climate issues. Our work with National Grid in the UK saw us produce a resilience assessment framework is helping the network to assess the operational strengths of its systems and processes.

Enabling prosumers

Our expertise supports energy operators, commercial organisations and cities with services that range from masterplanning to the electrical engineering design of microgrids. At this time of transition to net zero and continued expansion of cities, urban energy infrastructure is under increasing pressure and consumers are becoming prosumers as they seek to cut their energy use and their costs from data centres to tech companies. We work with a range of clients to explore what future solutions could look like such as off grid campuses using digital systems to manage energy usage, looking at effective storage solutions for renewable energy.

Whatever the urban energy solution or system, we focus above all else on one thing: creating a sustainable, resilient energy future for cities and their people.  


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