Cities, regions, networks, energy: even smarter!

The smart city is an urban revolution. It brings together a whole set of digital technologies and tools enabling local authorities to achieve savings while improving people's quality of life. It represents a fruitful challenge for cities concerned about tackling climate change and a solid source of expertise for Dalkia, which remains at the forefront of innovation in everything from rural towns to major cities.

Intelligent energy steering system for public commercial, industrial, health and residential buildings

What are smart cities?

Smart grids, smart buildings, smart factories, smart lighting, smart homes… Not so long ago, words like these felt like something straight out of a science fiction book. Today, some still feel a little foreign, yet at the same time everything about our lives has become "smart". And despite the doubts to which the concept sometimes gives rise, it has our best interests at heart! Two fundamental principles are central to this burgeoning trend: ecology and connectivity, allowing us to anticipate our needs and meet them swiftly, reliably and sustainably.

Cities are no exception. The smart city concept is increasingly being rolled out around the world in step with structural changes in areas such as: managing energy, monitoring water and air quality, and collecting waste – areas in which smart technology has enabled a vast array of significant advances. "Energy providers will play a leading role in turning urban environments into smart cites that are connected and energy efficient," says Sylvie Jéhanno1, Chairwoman and CEO of Dalkia. "Achieving these goals tomorrow requires a paradigm shift today: it involves ramping up decentralised power generation alongside centralised policies to develop local energy sources, create short-loop grids (electricity, gas and heating) and tailor solutions to real needs."

The challenge for local authorities lies in offering a more self-sufficient model that is resilient and attractive in order to rise to the significant challenge of climate imbalance while improving quality of life for everyone – residents, visitors, workers and companies. To meet these targets, local authorities are relying on new technologies and increasingly in-depth data analysis using solutions such as Building Information Modelling (BIM) and digital twins, which are a crucial part of designing, building and managing smart, sustainable cities. It is no longer a matter of simply gathering data. As Ms Jéhanno2 explains, the challenge also lies in "sorting that information, structuring it and extracting smart data to enable informed decision-making". Even the data are now smart!

However, this urban transformation is about much more than just a race to innovate. Although they cover less than 2% of the Earth's surface, cities produce more than 60% of CO2 emissions, not to mention other greenhouse gases. As a result, there is a pressing need to change the way they are designed. As far as we are concerned, there is no longer any room for doubt. We are already helping our clients to manage their consumption by producing and distributing renewable and recovered energy sources, supporting energy planning and optimising usage. In rising to the new challenges our clients bring to us, we continue to innovate to make the most of local energy sources and connect them using new technologies – all with a view to promoting sustainable energy performance to build the city of the future.

Dalkia's smart city vision

We believe building the city of tomorrow means connecting people to technology and digital solutions. That involves bringing together a number of different concepts to make urban environments more inclusive, effective and sustainable, to meet the needs of the present without compromising future resources. To that end, we have made an unwavering commitment in five key areas of everyday action:

  1. A people-centric approach: end users are our number-one priority. We process an endless array of data and interact with local stakeholders to facilitate decision-making and create new services for residents.
  2. Decarbonisation: we aim to unlock energy savings . We curb the use of fossil fuels and harness the power of clean, renewable, local sources such as geothermal, biomass, biogas and recovered energy.
  3. Energy management: we believe in energy performance. We connect your buildings to our DESC to stay a step ahead on maintenance, adjustments and improvements while scheduling work by technicians.
  4. Solidarity: We believe in "working for and working with! We ensure access to heating as an essential service, we help to tackle energy poverty and we promote local jobs.
  5. Sustainable performance: we are committed to long-term performance. We provide a guarantee to meet the goals we set together through a range of practical, innovative contract solutions from design to operation. Our energy performance contracts are a cornerstone of this approach.

Dalkia pioneers smart thermal grids in France

Sustainable cities need to cope with spikes in energy demand. Smart thermal grids can collect and analyse key data about a given network to optimise the balance between available energy supply and user demand in real time. That means anticipating user behaviour and avoiding energy loss. "Nothing is wasted: we recover, recycle and pool our resources," says Céline Lorrain, Dalkia's head of sales. "Naturally, this involves digital technology but above all it means a diverse energy mix that makes the most of local energy sources to meet demand." The Smart grid also makes it possible to choose the right energy at the right time: solar, biomass, biogas, geothermal, marine energy, recovered energy sources... and more.

Owing to changing concerns and the advent of digital solutions, the traditional role of heating networks – generating and supplying heat to a given area – has changed into a new model. There are a lot of available energy sources that are hard to tap. Renewable and recovered energy sources like waste heat, solar, biomass and cogeneration are forcing networks to become more flexible to incorporate and pool them for new purposes, such as electric cars. Thanks to their storage capabilities and self-consumption solutions, heating networks have become a full-blown part of the drive to manage energy consumption for a wider scale. Herein lies the challenge of "smart territories": creating a smart environment to offer new services and combining electricity, gas and thermal systems into a smart energy grid to benefit users.

78 %

The percentage of the world's energy consumed by cities, even though they account for less than 2% of the Earth's surface. What is more, they also produce over 60% CO2 emissions.

68 %

The percentage of the world's population that will be living in urban areas by 2050, compared with 55% in 2018. This gives rise to challenges related to the well-being of residents and the sustainable use of resources.


The number of local authorities in France that are officially working on smart cities, from small towns such as Soissons to major urban centres like Lyon.


Smart building

Smart buildings incorporate digital solutions into building operations to optimise energy consumption and enable interaction with the building's ecosystem. On the one hand, Building Information Modelling (BIM) stores…

Smart grid

Connected to smart buildings, a smart grid is a network able to integrate the actions of users, consumers and producers to facilitate energy management and boost energy efficiency. There are several types of smart grid…

Smart lighting

Smart lighting provides a full array of control and configuration options covering brightness, colour, lit areas, timer settings and more. Lighting can adapt to the level of daylight or the presence of people nearby to…

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