The Rushlight Show 2016 wil take place at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London on Thursday 28 January 2016. The Show, now in its 7th year, has over 100 cleantech companies of all stages of development represented by their senior management; investors and financiers; sustainability professionals from major corporates and key intermediaries all registered. This event, sponsored by Venner Shipley, Atkins and The Knowledge Transfer Network and with over 300 already registered, provides valuable opportunities to engage with and to announce your interest in the sector. It incorporates the following:
- An Exhibition of the latest innovations in cleantech, including a number of entrants of the Rushlight Awards, with over 40 organisations represented..
- The Funding Cleantech Conference, which covers the new £250,000 investment prize for the winner of the Future of the Smart Home competition backed by Ariadne Capital, grants, DECC’s innovation funding, London’s only dedicated cleantech incubator, Innovate UK funding and other aspects of funding cleantech companies, our new Crowdfunding Session, and a range of cleantech companies presenting their companies to expert panels of active cleantech investors.
- The Resourceful Conference, kindly supported by the KTN and in association with LCRN, which focuses on the development of maintenance and repair, reuse, sharing, renting, remanufacture and activities and collaborations in that area, with direct input from over 20 of the leading participants from local authorities, companies, waste operators, government departments, community schemes and investors.
- The Sustainable Solutions Market Panel, where cleantech companies present their products and services directly to a panel of leading sustainability and procurement representatives from Tesco, Interserve, Premier Farnell, Canary Wharf Group, Diocese of London, Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and Heathrow Airport Ltd.
- UK Energy breakfast seminar, kindly sponsored and supported by Atkins, setting out an analysis of the current economics for all the different sources of power generation, with and without subsidies, and then a presentation of the UK Energy Market Strategy by Jeremy Pocklington, now Director General Markets & Infrastructure at DECC having spent the last 3 years at HM Treasury. This is a must attend event for anyone with an interest in UK power generation and the energy market.
In addition to the 100 cleantech businesses attending, there are a number presenting to investors and to the following impressive panel of major corporate sustainability customers:
- David Ferroussat, Head of Infrastructure Procurement, Heathrow Airport Ltd
- Ian Sorensen, Group Head of Consumables and Waste & Recycling Procurement, Tesco PLC
- Alexandra Hammond, Sustainability Director, Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
- Brian Cuthbertson, Head of Environment & Sustainability, Diocese of London
- Mat Roberts, Sustainability Strategy Director, Interserve
- Steven Webb, Head of CSR, Premier Farnell
- Martin Gettings, Group Sustainability Manager, Canary Wharf Group plc
We are very fortunate to have some other leading individuals involved this year, including:
- Julie Hill, Green Alliance and Chair of WRAP
- Jeremy Pocklington, Director General Markets & Infrastructure, DECC
- Philip New, Chief Executive Energy Systems Catapult
- Ian Ellerington, Head of Innovation Delivery, DECC
- Inder Poonaji, Head of Sustainability, Viridor
- Craig Edgar, Head of Future Energies, Atkins
- Rob Saunders, Head of Energy, Innovate UK
- Sara Bell, Chief Executive Tempus Energy
- Julia Groves, Chair UK Crowdfunding Association
- Jonathan Lydiard-Wilson, Managing Director, Accenture Operations
- David Cornish, Global Sustainability Manager, AkzoNobel
- Marius Roestad, Head of Product, Nimber
There are also a range of other organisations involved in the programme including the Carbon Trust, PNO Consultants, Surrey Reuse Network, Warp-It, The Good Rubbish Company, Community RePaint, Braiform, Innoverne, Community Shop, Oakdene Hollins, Cambridgeshire Community Reuse & Recycling Network, Stone Computers, Desso, Turquoise Corporate Finance, Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit, over 30 active investors and financiers; local authorities; community reuse schemes; and leading sustainability professionals from a range of organisations.
The standard delegate price is £125 plus VAT, with major discounts available for investors and cleantech companies, so this event is designed to be both informative and exceptional value for money. If you wish to attend just the UK Energy Breakfast element of the day, the cost is £35 plus VAT, whereas the breakfast event is free for those registered for the whole day. Registration for all aspects of the event is at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/rushlight-show-2016-tickets-18417758010.
The number of organisations already registered means it is not possible to list them all here, but they can be viewed at http://www.rushlightevents.com/rushlight-show/who-will-be-attending.
Delegates for the Rushlight Show can also register to attend the Rushlight Awards Party which takes place in the evening after the Show at the same venue. This will include not only wine, food and networking, but also a very brief awards announcement, a poster exhibition and mini-surgeries where attendees can have 1-1s with an investor, the Green Investment Bank, a PR specialist and a regulator.
Will Self-Driving Cars Be Better for the Environment?
Technologists, engineers, lawmakers, and the general public have been excitedly debating about the merits of self-driving cars for the past several years, as companies like Waymo and Uber race to get the first fully autonomous vehicles on the market. Largely, the concerns have been about safety and ethics; is a self-driving car really capable of eliminating the human errors responsible for the majority of vehicular accidents? And if so, who’s responsible for programming life-or-death decisions, and who’s held liable in the event of an accident?
But while these questions continue being debated, protecting people on an individual level, it’s worth posing a different question: how will self-driving cars impact the environment?
The Big Picture
The Department of Energy attempted to answer this question in clear terms, using scientific research and existing data sets to project the short-term and long-term environmental impact that self-driving vehicles could have. Its findings? The emergence of self-driving vehicles could essentially go either way; it could reduce energy consumption in transportation by as much as 90 percent, or increase it by more than 200 percent.
That’s a margin of error so wide it might as well be a total guess, but there are too many unknown variables to form a solid conclusion. There are many ways autonomous vehicles could influence our energy consumption and environmental impact, and they could go well or poorly, depending on how they’re adopted.
One of the big selling points of autonomous vehicles is their capacity to reduce the total number of vehicles—and human drivers—on the road. If you’re able to carpool to work in a self-driving vehicle, or rely on autonomous public transportation, you’ll spend far less time, money, and energy on your own car. The convenience and efficiency of autonomous vehicles would therefore reduce the total miles driven, and significantly reduce carbon emissions.
There’s a flip side to this argument, however. If autonomous vehicles are far more convenient and less expensive than previous means of travel, it could be an incentive for people to travel more frequently, or drive to more destinations they’d otherwise avoid. In this case, the total miles driven could actually increase with the rise of self-driving cars.
As an added consideration, the increase or decrease in drivers on the road could result in more or fewer vehicle collisions, respectively—especially in the early days of autonomous vehicle adoption, when so many human drivers are still on the road. Car accident injury cases, therefore, would become far more complicated, and the roads could be temporarily less safe.
Deadheading is a term used in trucking and ridesharing to refer to miles driven with an empty load. Assume for a moment that there’s a fleet of self-driving vehicles available to pick people up and carry them to their destinations. It’s a convenient service, but by necessity, these vehicles will spend at least some of their time driving without passengers, whether it’s spent waiting to pick someone up or en route to their location. The increase in miles from deadheading could nullify the potential benefits of people driving fewer total miles, or add to the damage done by their increased mileage.
Make and Model of Car
Much will also depend on the types of cars equipped to be self-driving. For example, Waymo recently launched a wave of self-driving hybrid minivans, capable of getting far better mileage than a gas-only vehicle. If the majority of self-driving cars are electric or hybrids, the environmental impact will be much lower than if they’re converted from existing vehicles. Good emissions ratings are also important here.
On the other hand, the increased demand for autonomous vehicles could put more pressure on factory production, and make older cars obsolete. In that case, the gas mileage savings could be counteracted by the increased environmental impact of factory production.
The Bottom Line
Right now, there are too many unanswered questions to make a confident determination whether self-driving vehicles will help or harm the environment. Will we start driving more, or less? How will they handle dead time? What kind of models are going to be on the road?
Engineers and the general public are in complete control of how this develops in the near future. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see all the safety benefits of having autonomous vehicles on the road, but without any of the extra environmental impact to deal with.
New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035
New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.
New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.
Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.
Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”
The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.
Zero net emissions by 2050
Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.
Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.
She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.
Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”
A worldwide shift to renewable energy
Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.
Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.
Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.
Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.
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