Recent growth in the use of photovoltaic technology and a rapid reduction in its cost confirms the potential of solar power on a large scale. In this context, planning for the deployment of smart grids is among the most important challenges to support the increased penetration of solar energy in urban areas and to ensure the resilience of the electricity system. As part this effort, the present paper describes a cellular approach to a Net-Zero energy concept, based on the balance between the potential solar energy supply and the existing consumption patterns at the urban unit scale. To do that, the Geographical Urban Units Delimitation model (GUUD) has been developed and tested on a case study. By applying the GUUD model, which combines Geographic Information Systems (GIS), parametric modelling, and solar dynamic analysis, the whole area of the city was divided into urban cells, categorized as solar producers and energy consumers. The discussion around three theoretical scenarios permits us to explore how smart grids can be approached and promoted from an urban planning perspective. The paper provides insights into how urban planning can be a driver to optimize and manage energy balance across the city if the deployment of smart grids is correctly integrated in its operative process.
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