Greener, cleaner buses have arrived in large numbers in the UK. They are playing an increasingly important part in cutting carbon emissions from road transport sector and, in particular, reducing pollution in cities around the UK. A new report by the LowCVP for Greener Journeys describes The Journey of the Green Bus; how innovation and supportive policy over the last decade and more has transformed the bus sector from being a part of the problem to being an important part of the solution to poor urban air quality as well as contributing to tackling climate change.
Maintaining our ability to move around in increasingly congested towns and cities is more critical today than ever before, so with road transport responsible for around a quarter of the UK’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and up to 60% of roadside NOx pollution in many cities around the UK, the introduction of cleaner, low emission buses is a vital component of a low emission transport future. Older technology buses historically contributed up to two-thirds of NOx emissions in the most densely trafficked areas.
From its inception in 2002 the LowCVP had a clearly defined objective to help bring low carbon buses to the UK market. Building on many years of work by LowCVP members (in particular Millbrook and TfL) the LowCVP developed the criteria for the Low Carbon Emission Bus (LCEB) for the Department for Transport (DfT) which provided the basis for £90m of support under the four rounds of the Government’s Green Bus Fund. There are now around 3,500 buses on the road which meet the LCEB criteria. More than one in four buses sold in 2015 was a LCEB and over half of all 2015 bus registrations met the Euro VI standard.
Following further policy development, the LowCVP supported OLEV and DfT in producing the new Low Emission Bus (LEB) criteria, providing the basis for the recent Low Emission Bus Grant; a £30 million fund to be run over three years (2016–2019) designed to stimulate the purchase of Low Emission Buses.
A Low Emission Bus is defined as a vehicle which can achieve a reduction of more than 15% well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions compared with a Euro V diesel bus, as well as the Euro VI HD engine standard for pollutant emissions.
A wide range of technical solutions have been adopted and, validated through real world emissions tests, are now delivering clear and demonstrable air quality and carbon benefits. The technologies adopted include the full spectrum of hybrid solutions (plug-in hybrids, diesel-electric hybrids, flywheel hybrids and micro-hybrids); battery electric buses; and a range of fuel solutions including buses powered by hydrogen fuel cells and biomethane.
Air quality regulations have been set in Europe for various air pollutants to protect human health. Whilst much has been achieved to date, the latest research by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) shows that at least five regions in the UK are still facing an immense challenge in meeting European air quality standards for nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The Low Emission Buses beat every standard needed to operate in Clean Air Zones including the London ULEZ.
Speaking on the launch of the report at the UK Bus Summit 2016 – held at London’s QEII Centre in Westminster – the LowCVP Managing Director, Andy Eastlake said: “While an increasingly wide range of transport options now exist, there’s no doubt that an effective bus operation can deliver one of the best solutions to the mobility challenges of air quality, climate change, congestion, convenience and, of course, cost.
“The Journey of the Green Bus chronicles how the last 20 years have transformed the emissions, efficiency and experience of buses. It will, hopefully, help to dispel some of the outdated perceptions of this essential travel option.”
Claire Haigh, Chief Executive of Greener Journeys and a LowCVP Board member, said: “This report demonstrates that low emission buses are a crucial part of the solution to reducing roadside pollution and tackling a major public health risk. For many years the bus industry has worked to improve and innovate, and the result is a fleet of greener buses which are among the cleanest vehicles on the UK’s roads.”
Mike Weston, Transport for London’s Director of Buses and Chair of the LowCVP’s Bus Working Group said: “London has always been at the forefront of trialling green bus technology to reduce harmful emissions and we have shared our experiences with our counterparts across the UK. The Capital’s bus fleet is one of the greenest in the world with more than 1,600 hybrid buses alongside hydrogen buses and a growing number of pure electric buses.
“By 2020 all double deck buses operating in central London will be hybrid and all single deck buses will be zero emission – delivering air quality benefits right across the Capital.”
Mark Munday, Technical Director of First Bus, a leading operator of LCEBs said: “I’m proud to be at the forefront of new technology, driving customer friendly improvements which benefit local communities and the environment. Significant advances have been made by the industry in improving air quality and reducing carbon emissions through focussed effort to develop and exploit new technology for our buses.”
Ken Scott, Group Engineering Director at a leading UK manufacturer Alexander Dennis said: “The UK market and policy environment has provided a fantastic opportunity for Alexander Dennis to help develop new fuel saving and low carbon technology on our products, benefiting our customers, reducing air pollution and supporting the UK bus industry to be at the forefront of low emission bus adoption globally.”
Phil Stones, Head of Powertrain – Emissions & Fuel Economy, Millbrook, a leading UK testing centre said: “Millbrook is proud to be have been working with the bus industry, the LowCVP and other parties to help drive more fuel efficient and less polluting buses into the market.
“It is remarkable to think that from the first old Routemaster we tested in 1996 through to the latest Euro VI hybrid today how far the industry has moved technology forward to deliver these benefits while still improving safety and passenger comfort.”
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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