As well as being the backbone of urban public transport systems, subways are also major consumers of energy. For example, the entire underground train network in Barcelona consumes around 63.1 million kWh a year. A third of the total energy is used to operate subsystems in the subway stations, such as air conditioning, escalators, elevators, and lighting. If it were possible to reduce energy consumption by just a few percent, this would save an impressive quantity of electricity. The goal of the EU's SEAM4US project is therefore to develop sustainable energy management technologies that will reduce the energy requirements of subsystems. The solution involves integrating additional measuring devices and sensor-actuator networks into the subsystems. The requisite user, environment, and time data will be recorded using specially developed middleware. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology FIT in the German town of Sankt Augustin are coordinating the system development activities within the project team. They are also responsible for integration of the different technologies into the SEAM4US platform.
The SEAM4US system is currently being installed and tested in the "Passeig de Gràcia" subway station in Barcelona. This transport hub is one of the busiest stations in the Catalan capital. If five percent was shaved off the energy consumption of Barcelona's underground train network, this would save enough electricity to power about 700 households. According to the experts at the FIT, savings on this scale are a thoroughly realizable prospect with the new energy management system.