Today marks the launch of the Low Emission Bus (LEB) Guide by The Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) taking place at the Euro Bus Expo 2016 (1-3 November, NEC, Birmingham).
The Low Emission Bus Guide aims to be a vital reference for bus operators and local authorities, providing an overview of the benefits of a range of low emission fuels and technologies that reduce both air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
The Guide is intended to equip bus operators and local authorities with information to aid purchasing decisions, and encourage the adoption of the most appropriate low emission bus technology and associated infrastructure for particular routes and applications. The Guide can be viewed here.
The Guide covers a range of technologies including: electric, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electrified ancillaries, hydrogen fuel cell, biomethane, renewable diesel and retrofit selective catalytic reduction. It outlines both the emissions performance and the operational and financial factors fleet operators should consider when procuring new buses and the associated infrastructure requirements and implications. Real-world bus operator case studies are provided to highlight and demonstrate the environmental and business cases for the range of different technologies and fuels.
Buses play a vital role in delivering sustainable transport in our towns and cities, providing rural connectivity to a broad cross-section of the population. However, existing diesel buses are a source of air pollution – an issue particularly in urban centres where many buses operate – and greenhouse gas emissions.
The UK Government is committed to limiting climate change and improving local air quality. The establishment of Clean Air Zones (CAZ) will discourage the use of older, more polluting buses, taxis, coaches and lorries by charging them to access key areas. Bus operators will be under increasing pressure to reduce the emissions impact of their operations.
As the LowCVP’s LEB Guide shows, the purchase of low emission buses can also offer life-cycle cost/total cost of ownership benefits to bus operators, demonstrating a clear business case for choosing alternative technologies.
In 2015, 40% of new buses sold met the requirements for low carbon qualification. The UK’s success in rapidly transforming the UK bus market from a significant part of the emissions problem to being a vital component of the solution in terms of clean mobility is a demonstration of effective collaboration between technology developers, operators, policy makers and other stakeholders.
The development of robust assessment processes such as the LowCVP’s Low Emission Bus Test (to show how the Euro VI emissions systems deliver real-world benefits), and the introduction of government support schemes (with LowCVP advice and support) such as the revision to the BSOG incentive1 and the series of Green Bus Funds, have been important building blocks in this process.
Transport Minister John Hayes said: “Buses are the most popular form of public transport and millions of people rely on them every day. Low emission vehicles can make a real difference to air quality in towns and cities, which is why we have committed £30m to help pay for more than 300 new cleaner buses.
“This guide will give operators and councils the information they need to adopt these greener vehicles.”
The new Low Emission Bus Guide provides clear yet comprehensive advice about which bus fuels and technologies are best suited to a range of operating conditions.
The LowCVP’s Managing Director Andy Eastlake said:
“Maintaining our ability to move around in increasingly congested towns and cities is more critical today than ever before. With road transport responsible for around a quarter of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions and up to 60% of roadside NOx pollution in many cities around the UK, the introduction of cleaner, low emission buses is a key component – and a good example – of how we can achieve a low emission transport future.
“The new Low Emission Bus Guide provides clear yet comprehensive advice about which bus fuels and technologies are best suited to a range of operating conditions.”
Stuart Cottrell, Head of Advanced Engineering, Alexander Dennis Ltd, commented:
“There are few easy answers to the complex question of which low emission technology is best for each operator, route and service requirements – no one size fits all. Whilst ADL strives to provide the best options across the cost-benefit spectrum it’s key that the whole landscape is understood. Providing clear, independent information on the range of low and zero emission technologies in the bus sector is key to driving informed debate and fact-based decisions.”
Frank Thorpe, UK Country Manager, BYD added:
“As the world’s largest maker of pure electric buses, BYD recognises the complex task facing operators as they work out which technologies to choose. We are convinced that battery-powered buses are the way forward in terms of ease and cost of operation and their related infrastructure. We welcome the publication of this Guide and the clarity it brings to the industry.”
From Carlos Vicente, International Business Development Manager, Eminox:
“I think this guide will really help bus operators to make informed choices about replacing or upgrading vehicles, and of course we’re delighted to see SCRT technology recognised for its potential to improve air quality.”
Tony Griffiths, Gas Bus Alliance said:
“The Gas Bus Alliance is proud to be part of the development of the Low Emission Bus Guide that confirms biomethane as the cleanest option available in terms of well-to-wheel emissions.”
James Salmon, Project Manager UK, HJS Emission Technology GmbH & Co. KG:
“HJS Emission Technology is pleased to have worked in partnership with the LowCVP on the production of the Low Emission Bus Guide. The Guide provides an essential insight into the air quality issues faced by the public transport industry and the environmental technologies that are available to tackle them.”
Robert Drewery, Commercial Director, Optare:
“As the leading electric bus manufacturer in the UK we are delighted to support the LowCVP’s LEB Guide. It is a much-needed source of information that will support operators in reviewing infrastructure requirements and implications as well as financial factors when considering alternative technologies. We hope the Guide will inspire the purchase of more low emission vehicles and help in the industry’s quest to limit climate change and improve local air quality.”
Adrian Felton, City Mobility Manager, Volvo Group UK Limited, concluded:
“The release of the Low Emission Bus Guide is a significant step forward in helping local authorities and operators to select the right technology for their city and operation.
“The Volvo Group has a long-standing relationship with the LowCVP which continues to develop and is delighted to have been able to support the production of the Low Emission Bus Guide. The aims of the LowCVP have many similarities with those of the Volvo Group which aims is to become the world leader in sustainable low emission transport systems.”
Two Ancient Japanese Philosophies Are the Future of Eco-Living
Our obsession with all things new has blighted the planet. We have a waste crisis, particularly when it comes to plastic. US scientists have calculated the total amount of plastic ever made – 8.3 billion tons! Unfortunately, only 9% of this is estimated to have been recycled. And current global trends point to there being 12 billion tons of plastic waste by 2050.
However, two ancient Japanese philosophies are providing an antidote to the excesses of modern life. By emphasizing the elimination of waste and the acceptance of the old and imperfect, the concepts of Mottainai and Wabi-Sabi have positively influenced Japanese life for centuries.
They are now making their way into the consciousness of the Western mainstream, with an increasing influence in the UK and US. By encouraging us to be frugal with our possessions, (i.e. using natural materials for interior design) these concepts can be the future of eco-living.
What is Wabi-Sabi and Mottainai??
Wabi-Sabi emphasizes an acceptance of transience and imperfection. Although Wabi had the original meaning of sad and lonely, it has come to describe those that are simple, unmaterialistic and at one with nature. The term Sabi is defined as the “the bloom of time”, and has evolved into a new meaning: taking pleasure and seeing beauty in things that are old and faded.
Any flaws in objects, like cracks or marks, are cherished because they illustrate the passage of time. Wear and tear is seen as a representation of their loving use. This makes it intrinsically linked to Wabi, due to its emphasis on simplicity and rejection of materialism.
In the West, Wabi-Sabi has infiltrated many elements of daily life, from cuisine to interior design. Specialist Japanese homeware companies, like Sansho, source handmade products that embody the Wabi-Sabi philosophy. Their products, largely made from natural materials, are handcrafted by traditional Japanese artisans – meaning no two pieces are the same and no two pieces are “perfect” in size or shape.
Mottainai is a term expressing a feeling of regret concerning waste, translating roughly in English to either “what a waste!” or “Don’t waste!”. The philosophy emphasizes the intrinsic value of a resource or object, and is linked to hinto animism, the notion that all objects have a spirit, or ‘kami’. The idea that we are part of nature is a key part of Japanese psychology.
Mottainai also has origins in Buddhist philosophy. The Buddhist monastic tradition emphasizes a life of frugality, to allow us to concentrate on attaining enlightenment. It is from this move towards frugality that a link to Mottainai as a concept of waste can be made.
How have Wabi-Sabi and Mottainai promoted eco living?
Wabi-Sabi is still a prominent feature of Japanese life today, and has remained instrumental in the way people design their homes. The ideas of imperfection and frugality are hugely influential.
For example, instead of buying a brand-new kitchen table, many Japanese people instead retain a table that has been passed through the generations. Although its long use can be seen by various marks and scratches, Wabi-Sabi has taught people that they should value it because of its imperfect nature. Those scratches and marks are a story and signify the passage of time. This is a far cry from what we typically associate with the Western World.
Like Wabi Sabi, Mottainai is manifested throughout Japanese life, creating a great respect for Japanese resources. This has had a major impact on home design. For example, the Japanese prefer natural materials in their homes, such as using soil and dried grass as thermal insulation.
Their influence in the UK
The UK appears to be increasingly influenced by thes two concepts. Some new reports indicate that Wabi Sabi has been labelled as ‘the trend of 2018’. For example, Japanese ofuro baths inspired the project that won the New London Architecture’s 2017 Don’t Move, Improve award. Ofuro baths are smaller than typical baths, use less water, and are usually made out of natural materials, like hinoki wood.
Many other UK properties have also been influenced by these philosophies, such as natural Kebony wood being applied to the external cladding of a Victorian property in Hampstead; or a house in Lancaster Gate using rice paper partitions as sub-dividers. These examples embody the spirit of both philosophies. They are representative of Mottainai because of their use of natural resources to discourage waste. And they’re reflective of Wabi-Sabi because they accept imperfect materials that have not been engineered or modified.
In a world that is plagued by mass over-consumption and an incessant need for novelty, the ancient concepts of Mottainai and Wabi-Sabi provide a blueprint for living a more sustainable life. They help us to reduce consumption and put less of a strain on the planet. This refreshing mindset can help us transform the way we go about our day to day lives.
What Should We Make of The Clean Growth Strategy?
It was hardly surprising the Clean Growth Strategy (CGS) was much anticipated by industry and environmentalists. After all, its publication was pushed back a couple of times. But with the document now in the public domain, and the Government having run a consultation on its content, what ultimately should we make of what’s perhaps one of the most important publications to come out of the Department for Business, Energy and the Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in the past 12 months?
The starting point, inevitably, is to decide what the document is and isn’t. It is, certainly, a lengthy and considered direction-setter – not just for the Government, but for business and industry, and indeed for consumers. While much of the content was favourably received in terms of highlighting ways to ensure clean growth, critics – not unjustifiably – suggested it was long on pages but short on detailed and finite policy commitments, accompanied by clear timeframes for action.
A Strategy, Instead of a Plan
But should we really be surprised? The answer, in all honesty, is probably not really. BEIS ministers had made no secret of the fact they would be publishing a ‘strategy’ as opposed to a ‘plan,’ and that gave every indication the CGS would set a direction of travel and be largely aspirational. The Government had consulted on its content, and will likely respond to the consultation during the course of 2018. And that’s when we might see more defined policy commitments and timeframes from action.
The second criticism one might level at the CGS is that indicated the use of ‘flexibilities’ to achieve targets set in the carbon budgets – essentially using past results to offset more recent failings to keep pace with emissions targets. Claire Perry has since appeared in front of the BEIS Select Committee and insisted she would be personally disappointed if the UK used flexibilities to fill the shortfall in meeting the fourth and fifth carbon budgets, but this is difficult ground for the Government. The Committee on Climate Change was critical of the proposed use of efficiencies, which would somewhat undermine ministers’ good intentions and commitment to clean growth – particularly set against November’s Budget, in which the Chancellor maintained the current carbon price floor (potentially giving a reprieve to coal) and introduced tax changes favourable to North Sea oil producers.
A 12 Month Green Energy Initiative with Real Teeth
But, there is much to appreciate and commend about the CGS. It fits into a 12-month narrative for BEIS ministers, in which they have clearly shown a commitment to clean growth, improving energy efficiency and cutting carbon emissions. Those 12 months have seen the launch of the Industrial Strategy – firstly in Green Paper form, which led to the launch of the Faraday Challenge, and then a White Paper in which clean growth was considered a ‘grand challenge’ for government. Throughout these publications – and indeed again with the CGS – the Government has shown itself to be an advocate of smart systems and demand response, including the development of battery technology.
Electrical Storage Development at Center of Broader Green Energy Push
While the Faraday Challenge is primarily focused on the development of batteries to support the proliferation of electric vehicles (which will support cuts to carbon emissions), it will also drive down technology costs, supporting the deployment of small and utility-scale storage that will fully harness the capability of renewables. Solar and wind made record contributions to UK electricity generation in 2017, and the development of storage capacity will help both reduce consumer costs and support decarbonisation.
The other thing the CGS showed us it that the Government is happy to be a disrupter in the energy market. The headline from the publication was the plans for legislation to empower Ofgem to cap the costs of Standard Variable Tariffs. This had been an aspiration of ministers for months, and there’s little doubt that driving down costs for consumers will be a trend within BEIS policy throughout 2018.
But the Government also seems happy to support disruption in the renewables market, as evidenced by the commitment (in the CGS) to more than half a billion pounds of investment in Pot 2 of Contracts for Difference (CfDs) – where the focus will be on emerging rather than established technologies.
This inevitably prompted ire from some within the industry, particularly proponents of solar, which is making an increasing contribution to the UK’s energy mix. But, again, we shouldn’t really be surprised. Since the subsidy cuts of 2015, ministers have given no indication or cause to think there will be public money afforded to solar development. Including solar within the CfD auction would have been a seismic shift in policy. And while ministers’ insistence in subsidy-free solar as the way forward has been shown to be based on a single project, we should expect that as costs continue to be driven down and solar makes record contributions to electricity generation, investment will follow – and there will ultimately be more subsidy-free solar farms, albeit perhaps not in 2018.
Meanwhile, by promoting emerging technologies like remote island wind, the Government appears to be favouring diversification and that it has a range of resources available to meet consumer demand. Perhaps more prescient than the decision to exclude established renewables from the CfD auction is the subsequent confirmation in the budget that Pot 2 of CfDs will be the last commitment of public money to renewable energy before 2025.
In short, we should view the CGS as a step in the right direction, albeit one the Government should be elaborating on in its consultation response. Its publication, coupled with the advancement this year of the Industrial Strategy indicates ministers are committed to the clean growth agenda. The question is now how the aspirations set out in the CGS – including the development of demand response capacity for the grid, and improving the energy efficiency of commercial and residential premises – will be realised.
It’s a step in the right direction. But, inevitably, there’s much more work to do.
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