Smart energy cities: The evolution of the city-energy-sustainability nexus
This paper reviews the emergence and development of the “smart energy city” as an academic, normative, and applied concept. An examination of the academic literature since the early 2000s reveals the unfolding of spatiotemporal trends relating to this concept. It has been emerging to represent a sector-specified version of its sister concept of smart cities, also popularized in the past decade. However, the idea of the smart energy city has its own historic precursors and nationally specific trajectories. It rose from concerns with energy efficient/green buildings as well as smart grids for low carbon and distributed energy generation and distribution, which were later scaled up to the whole urban scale, and to embrace multiple other urban sectors and urban domains. By so doing, and combining the developments in ICT-led smart cities and sustainable energy, the notion of the smart energy city has come close to represent a digitally-mediated variant of low carbon cities. It can, thus, be conceptualized as a blend of smart cities and low carbon cities. National and urban case studies help to further distinguish “actually existing” projects, patterns, and conceptualization relating to both smart cities and smart energy cities and barriers to their practical integration. A greater focus on intersystem integration and a multistakeholder approach more recently offers a stronger representation of interdisciplinarity and conveys the complexity of the system involved, where humans and social systems become increasingly more central.