“Solar-Powered” is Reshaping Tomorrow’s Cities

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Futurists envision tomorrow’s cities with an eye toward solar. They see people being moved by zero-emission electric vehicles charged by solar power. On the horizon will be monorail and suspended people cabs moving smaller groups of passengers—all solar powered, of course. Streetlights and LED-lighted walkways will be powered by solar. And multi-unit dwellings will be covered with glass windows that double as solar panels. Solar powered cities like these may be just around the corner. In October 2017, Solar Decathlon 2017 will offer a preview of cities that will be entirely powered by solar energy.

 Denver Area Smart City Coming Soon

Peña Station Next , a “smart city” between downtown Denver and the airport being mapped out by city planners is expected to add 1.5 million square feet of corporate office space, 500,000 square feet of retail stores, 2,500 solar-powered residential units, and 1,500 hotel rooms. The new sustainable city will rise in the area separating the busy urban hub from the country’s largest land-area airport.

Recently, the publicly run Regional Transportation District (RTD) opened the University of Colorado’s A line route, which efficiently transports employees, residents and tourists between Union Station and Denver International Airport. The new train whisks them to their destination at a heady 80 miles per hour. Denver’s concept rises to meet the Energy Department’s goal of ultimately powering the entire U.S. with clean, affordable and diverse energy resources that serve to reduce carbon emissions and protect the environment.

Japan’s Smart Town

Panasonic’s innovative subsidiary, Panasonic Enterprises, recently helped develop the Sustainable Smart Town project in Fujisawa, Japan. The project pulls out all the stops in sustainability. It features PV solar panels on every rooftop, solar powered bike and footpaths, electric vehicle charging stations, wireless Internet, and a three-day supply of battery-stored renewable power. The joint project between private and public sectors features a working smart town with 1,000 households.

The new smart town dovetails an advanced technology-based infrastructure with a living, breathing municipality the supports people and how they live. The projects centers around a 100-year vision of city planners that helped map out guidelines for the community. Residents in the town live, interact, and exchange ideas to foster a better way of living. The town’s management company will consider the requirements of its residents and incorporate new services and technologies as the town evolves over time. This includes any improvements/modifications in energy, security, mobility, wellness and emergency situations.

Florida’s First Sustainable Town

 The nation’s first completely solar-powered town will occupy a large patch of rural land in southwest Florida. Called Babcock Ranch, the 91,000-acre sustainable town will be first eco-friendly city built from the ground up. Expected to house as many 50,000 people, the first residents are scheduled to move in by early 2017. Eschewing the typical suburban cluster-homes concept, Babcock Ranch will feature most of the necessities of modern living, including a public school, “downtown” shops and restaurants, hiking trails and even lakes for kayaking.

Driverless cars will shuttle residents from shop to home to school, eliminating the traffic snarls that “ball and chain” the mobility of most commuters. Potential residents will have a wide choice of domiciles, including condominiums and larger homes with front porches. The homes will be priced from $200,000 to $800,000. The first phase of 1,100 homes will be offered to eager buyers in 2017. To power the city’s homes and business, 443 acres were donated to the state’s utility company, Florida Power and Light, to build a solar farm. The 75-megawatt solar farm is designed to produce enough electricity to power 21,000 homes.

Entire cities powered by the sun? They’re coming sooner than expected as we learn to harness the free energy the sun showers upon us every day.

Posted on Wednesday, October 19th, 2016