Urban Transportation: Energy Consumption

by Aurora Silva

More than half of the global population now lives in towns and cities. At the same time, transport has become the highest single energy-consuming human activity. Hence, one of the major topics today is the reduction of urban transport demand and of energy consumption in cities. This article is focused on the whole package of instruments that can reduce energy consumption and transport demand in Belgrade, a city that is currently at a major crossroad. Belgrade can prevent a dramatic increase in energy consumption and CO2 emissions (and mitigate the negative local environmental effects of traffic congestion, traffic accidents, and air pollution), only if it: implements a more decisive strategy to limit private vehicles use while its level of car passenger km travelled is still relatively low, does not try to solve its transport problems only by trying to build urban road infrastructure (bridges and ring roads), and if it continues to provide priority movement for buses (a dominant form of public transport), while at the same time developing urban rail systems (metro or light rail transit) with exclusive tracks, immune to the traffic congestion on urban streets. Continue reading

Impacts of Energy Use Due to Change in Chinese Economy

by Aurora Silva

This is a very interesting article that illustrates the implications o the change of economic structure on the emissions and energy use in China. The Chinese CO2 intensity and energy intensity targets are rather stringent. Reaching the CO2 intensity target is difficult even with the optimistic assumption of fast expansion of renewable energy capacity and fast structural change. The Chinese economy is in a transitional state: Chinese leadership hopes to steer the economic development away from exports and investment and towards serving the Chinese domestic market, increasing the living standard of the Chinese citizenry as well as reducing the environmental impact that the long-enduring high economic growth has caused. In addition to the long-enduring high economic growth has caused. Among the global economies, China is the largest emitter of CO2 emissions and the development of its economic system in the next fifteen years will have great weight in determining cumulative global emissions. Continue reading

ORNL Creates Low Cost Energy Sensors

by Mariah Valerie Barber

Oak Ridge National Library, the largest US Department of Energy science research laboratory has created new low-cost wireless sensor technology that can be used to monitor the energy consumed by commercial buildings (Ornl.gov). Currently, buildings consume 40% of all energy being consumed in the United States. Most commercial buildings poorly monitor and control their energy consumption. For example, systems in commercial buildings such as heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and electricity often are under controlled and unmonitored. These new sensors have the potential to reduce the energy consumption of buildings by 20-30% (Physics.org). Continue reading

Are Electric Vehicles Really Worth The Higher Costs?

by JP Kiefer

Electric vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and fuel cell vehicles all offer promising alternatives to the conventional vehicle in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These alternatives may not be as beneficial as they seem on first glance, however. While electric, hybrid-electric, and fuel cell vehicles all promise to minimize greenhouse gas emissions from their daily use, Gau and Winfield (2012) point out that each vehicle’s life cycle assessment needs to be computed before jumping to the conclusion that hybrid vehicles minimize greenhouse gas emissions. The life cycle assessment analyzes the greenhouse gas emissions from two cycles: a vehicle life cycle that includes vehicle assembly, maintenance, dismantling, and recycling and a fuel life cycle that consists of fuel extraction, processing, distribution, storage, and use. These alternative vehicles are the products of a larger volume of greenhouse gas emission from the vehicle life cycle due to additional energy consumption involved with the batteries and other additional parts that go into the more advanced technologies. Electric, hybrid electric, and plug-in hybrid vehicles can also contribute to greenhouse gas emissions when the energy used to charge the batteries does not come from a clean energy source. Gau and Winfield calculate that alternative vehicles do consume less energy than conventional vehicles, which consume an estimated 3600kJ/km in their life time, compared to a mere 2250kJ/km by hybrid electric vehicles or 3000kJ/km by extended range electric vehicles. Continue reading