Smart cities
Smart cities

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Smart cities

1.3 Energy systems for smarter cities

The following video from MK:Smart demonstrates how collaboration between a large energy provider, a university and citizens in a smart city project has created a practical domestic solution to the challenge of increased energy use in a rapidly growing community.

Download this video clip.Video player: ou_futurelearn_smartcities_vid_1023.mp4
Skip transcript


Secure and reliable energy supply is a key issue for our growing cities. Substations like this are in danger of becoming overloaded from increasing supply and demand. I work at The Open University.
And I'm involved in a project called MK:Smart, where we look at smarter ways to use and generate energy using smart technology.
MK:Smart is a 16 million pound investment in Milton Keynes. And we're working with key players like E.ON, BT, and Milton Keynes Council to gather data and develop new energy models.
We collect energy data from the whole city and analyse it in data centres like this to provide better information to people, to manage their energy more efficiently, to change how people use their appliances in their own home. This is one of the washing machines, which we have been testing. We have been developing an application, which runs on this tablet, which is connected to the washing machine and to solar panels on the roof.
In this way, individuals, thanks to E.ON's Thinking Energy project and The Open University, can save money and energy and do their bit towards protecting the planet. Here's how it works. The solar panels, the washing machine, and all the other appliances in the home are connected to a digital home hub. We monitor the consumption of each appliance, the energy generated by the solar panels, the import and export of energy to the grid, and we use online weather data to predict sun intensity during the day. And based on all this data, we predict an optimal time for the washing machine to run so that it is mostly powered from the solar panels.
So my tablet tells me when the solar panels will be generating the most amount of energy. I simply press a button and schedule the machine to start exactly at this time. So I can go out to work and save energy at the same time. So, Andrew, how has this washing machine helped you save energy?
The really great thing is that the tablet's allowed us to schedule the washing machine to start at a time which is when the sun's at its brightest. And that's generally a time when we're not in the house, Monday to Friday. So we've been able to schedule the washing machine to run at a green time automatically.
Energy management is not only important for our homes, but increasingly important for public and private transport. Electric vehicles like this need to be recharged occasionally, that reduces the demand for regular fuel but increases the strain on our electricity grid. That's why Smart Energy management is one of the key topics for future cities.
End transcript
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Drawing on data about energy supply and production, they’ve developed a tablet application that changes consumers’ behaviour in order to save energy and money.

Smart energy management is one of the key topics for future cities.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371