Though a pledge to use public transportation or other green modes of transport to cut down on car use may be noble, many British towns (let alone cities around the continent or in America) do not boast efficient or comprehensive transit systems, which means most people can’t get where they need to without cars.
However, knowing that car emissions is one area that we should cut down, what are we to do when we need to get somewhere fast?
When walking, cycling, and riding public transport aren’t options, you can still be sustainable. Here are three accessible and responsible transportation ideas to help you be cleaner and greener while using cars.
Perhaps the most exciting prospect for automobile technology is the potential of alternative fuels. Hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius, which typically combine traditional internal combustion engine driven by petrol with a battery-powered drive system, have been available worldwide for almost two decades, but even greener options are just beginning to appear on the market.
Recently, electricity has become the most promising contender against petrol. Despite the long tailpipe critique ― the argument that electric cars simply relocate emissions to coal plant smokestacks ― most researchers argue that reducing the emissions within cities is a step in a green direction.
Plus, advancements by automaker Tesla have increased electric cars’ range and horsepower, allowing them to travel farther (about 413 kilometres) and charge faster than their competition. What’s more, Tesla is releasing a more affordable model, the Tesla 3, which may shift average car owners’ allegiance to electric. Still, electricity isn’t a green driver’s only option.
Hydrogen-powered cars may seem incredibly sci-fi, but every day researchers get closer to practical hydrogen fuel cells for widespread use. Though not yet available to the public, current hydrogen concept cars can travel upwards of 600 kilometres with a single charge, which would take you from London to Edinburgh without a single stop (traffic notwithstanding).
Hydrogen cars currently available are exceedingly costly, at upwards of £50,000, but for most potential buyers, a more significant obstacle remains: infrastructure. Until the U.K. can construct a practical number of hydrogen charging stations, hydrogen cars must remain in park.
Thankfully, there are other sustainable driving options for those who need go get places today.
There’s a reason so many cities incentivize carpooling: With more people in a single car, there are fewer cars on the road, which reduces carbon emissions, traffic congestion, and money spent on finite resources like petrol. For those who live near friends and co-workers, carpooling is indeed a fantastic driving option ― but it doesn’t work for everyone.
Instead, sometimes-drivers should consider joining a carsharing program. Unlike driving services like cabs and Ubers, carsharing allows you to drive without the economical or environmental expense of vehicle ownership. This solution is ideal if you can usually walk, cycle, or use mass transit to get places but require access to personal transportation options on occasion. Typically, the carshare system works as follows:
– An interested driver registers with a local carsharing organization.
– Through an app, web interface, or other method, the driver requests access to a nearby vehicle.
– The carshare service verifies availability and reserves a particular vehicle.
– The driver is notified of the reservation and location of the vehicle.
– The driver uses the vehicle and deposits it in the closest acceptable car park.
Carsharing is green because it allows and encourages sustainable modes of transport except in special circumstances, when a personal vehicle is necessary. Additionally, most carshare vehicles are hybrids or similarly sustainable models; about one in four carshare users admit that without this option they would have purchased a car, and equally environmental options are usually above most car buyers’ price ranges. Carsharing brings green driving options to the masses.
Finally, if you must own a personal car, you can practice a few behaviours to ensure you use it as sustainably as possible. Simply maintaining your vehicle properly is enough to make it more fuel-economical: proper engine tuning improves efficiency up to 4 percent, correct tyre pressure provides another 4 percent, and clean air filters an astounding 10 percent.
How you drive also matters. The more consistently you can maintain a certain speed, the more efficient your engine will run. Therefore, using highways, avoiding high-traffic hours and areas, and using cruise control will make your drive time dramatically greener.
Are the UK Governments Plans for the Energy Sector Smart?
The revolution in the energy sector marches on, wind turbines and solar panels are harnessing more renewable energy than ever before – so where is it all leading?
The UK government have recently announced plans to modernise the way we produce, store and use electricity. And, if realised, the plans could be just the thing to bring the energy sector in line with 21st century technology and ideologies.
Central to the plans is an initiative that will see smart meters installed in homes and businesses the length and breadth of the country – and their aim? To create an environment where electricity can be managed more efficiently.
The news has prompted some speculation about how energy suppliers will react and many are predicting a price war. This could benefit consumers of electricity and investors, many of whom may be looking to make a profit by trading energy company shares online using platforms such as Oanda – but the potential for good news doesn’t end there.
Introducing New Technology
The plan, titled Smart Systems and Flexibility is being rolled out in the hope that it will have a positive impact in three core areas.
- To offer consumers greater control by making smart meters available for all homes and businesses by 2020. Energy users will be able to monitor, control and record the amount of energy they use.
- Incentivise energy suppliers to change the manner in which they buy electricity, to offer more smart tariffs and more off-peak periods for energy consumption.
- Introduce new standards for electrical appliances – it is hoped that the new wave of appliances will recognise when electricity is at its cheapest and at its most expensive and respond accordingly.
How the Plans Will Affect Solar Energy
Around 7 million houses in the UK have solar panels and the government say that their plan will benefit them as they will be able to store electricity on batteries. The stored energy can then be used by the household and excess energy can be exported to the national grid – in this instance lower tariffs or even payment for the excess energy will bring down annual costs significantly.
The rate of return on energy exported to the national grid is currently between 6% and 10%, but there are many variables to take into account, such as, the cost of battery storage and light levels. Still, those with state-of-the-art solar electricity systems could end up with an annual profit after selling their excess energy.
The Internet of Things
Much of what the plans set out to achieve are linked to the now ubiquitous “internet of things” – where, for example, appliances and heating systems are connected to the internet in order to make them function more smartly.
Companies like Hive have already made great inroads into this type of technology, but the road that the government plans are heading down, will, potentially, go much further -blockchain technology looms and has already proved to be a game changer in the world of currency.
It has already been suggested that the peer to peer selling of energy and exporting it to the national grid may eventually be done using blockchain technology.
“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”
Don and Alex Tapscott, Blockchain Revolution (2016)
The upshot of the government’s plans for the revolution of the energy sector, is that technology will play an indelible role in making it more efficient, more flexible and ultimately more sustainable.
4 Case Studies on the Benefits of Solar Energy
Demand for solar energy is growing at a surprising rate. New figures from SolarPower Europe show that solar energy production has risen 50% since the summer of 2016.
However, many people are still skeptical of the benefits of solar energy.Does it actually make a significant reduction in our carbon footprint? Is it actually cost-effective for the company over the long-run?
A number of case studies have been conducted, which indicate solar energy can be enormously beneficial. Here are some of the most compelling studies on the subject.
1. Boulder Nissan
When you think of companies that leverage solar power, car dealerships probably aren’t the first ones that come to mind. However, Boulder Nissan is highly committed to promoting green energy. They worked with Independent Power Systems to setup a number of solar cells. Here were the results:
- Boulder Nissan has reduced coal generated electricity by 65%.
- They are on track to run on 100% renewable energy within the next 13 years.
- Boulder Nissan reduced CO2 emissions by 416,000 lbs. within the first year after installing their solar panels.
This is one of the most impressive solar energy case studies a small business has published in recent years. It shows that even small companies in rural communities can make a major difference by adapting solar energy.
2. Valley Electric Association
In 2015, the Valley Electric Association (VEA) created an 80-acre solar garden. Before retiring from the legislature, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid praised the new project as a way to make the state more energy dependent and reduce our carbon footprint.
“This facility will provide its customers with the opportunity to purchase 100 percent of their electricity from clean energy produced in Nevada,” Reid told reporters with the Pahrump Valley Times. “That’s a step forward for the Silver State, but it also proves that utilities can work with customers to provide clean renewable energy that they demand.”
The solar energy that VEA produced was drastically higher than anyone would have predicted. SolarWorld estimates that the solar garden created 32,680,000 kwh every year, which was enough to power nearly 4,000 homes.
This was a major undertaking for a purple state, which may inspire their peers throughout the Midwest to develop solar gardens of their own. It will reduce dependency on the electric grid, which is a problem for many remote states in the central part of the country.
3. Las Vegas Casinos
A number of Las Vegas casinos have started investing in solar panels over the last couple of years. The Guardian reports that many of these casinos have cut costs considerably. Some of them are even selling the energy back to the grid.
“It’s no accident that we put the array on top of a conference center. This is good business for us,” Cindy Ortega, chief sustainability officer at MGM Resorts told Guardian reporters. “We are looking at leaving the power system, and one of the reasons for that is we can procure more renewable energy on the open market.”
There have been many benefits for casinos using solar energy. They are some of the most energy-intensive institutions in the world, so this has helped them become much more cost-effective. It also helps minimize disruptions to their customers learning online keno strategies in the event of any problems with the electric grid.
4. Boston College
Boston College has been committed to many green initiatives over the years. A group of researchers experimented with solar cells on different parts of the campus to see where they could produce the most electricity. They discovered that the best locationwas at St. Clement’sHall. The solar cells there dramatically. It would also reduce CO2 emissions by 521,702 lbs. a year and be enough to save 10,869 trees.
Boston College is exploring new ways to expand their usage of solar cells. They may be able to invest in more effective solar panels that can generate far more solar energy.
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