Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

Smart grids alone could help curb the need for additional power plants and decrease carbon emissions. But they’ll do even more good where they can be combined with new heating and transportation systems, whether that’s on the scale of an individual building or of an entire city.


“In most places we’ve got completely separate power, heat, and transport systems,” says David Clarke, CEO of the U.K.’s Energy Technologies Institute, an organization jointly funded by industry and the British government. Because power generation appears to be the easiest energy system to “decarbonize,” Clarke foresees that nearly all heating and transportation will eventually be brought under the electrical umbrella, through technologies such as electric vehicles and residential heat pumps that use the air or ground as a heat source or sink.

Before that all-electric future arrives, Japan is testing other technologies to reduce urban energy demand by better integrating power and heating systems. It is spending a billion dollars in four cities over five years to develop and deploy technologies such as residential natural-gas fuel cells: the cells reduce the amount of power the grid must supply, while waste heat from the fuel cell is used to warm the house. When electricity and heat are both generated on-site in this way, a house requires less total energy than it would if warmed and powered separately.

0 comments about this story. Start the discussion »

Tagged: Energy

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me
×

A Place of Inspiration

Understand the technologies that are changing business and driving the new global economy.

September 23-25, 2014
Register »