The term mass transit, according to Britannica Online Encyclopedia, is: "the movement of people within urban areas using group travel technologies such as buses and trains." Here at ReNewable Now we take this definition a bit further, as we also see our roads, highways, nautical transport, and air transport as we we like say, is possibly all Sustainable Mass Transit. So what we like to profile are these resources, and the components that complement them as it relates to becoming more eco-smart, and consumer friendly. Our modes of mass transportation is the lynch pin when it comes to truly fully realizing the enormous potential we have for change.
Solar Ambulance Saves Lives, Saves Money and Saves the Environment
They may not look much like the ambulances we see in the West, but these vehicles could mean the difference between life and death in parts of Bangladesh, plus, they are pedal and solar energy powered. Keeps the EMTs in shape, harnesses clean energy, and is environmentally friendly.
While it has pedals, the creators of the solar ambulance say the three-wheeled vehicle (5 if you count the double back wheels) can run entirely on solar power and is perfect for the nation’s many rural areas without such services. It can also fit down narrow alleyways where conventional ambulances can’t.
The ambulance is apparently as well-equipped as those used in Bangladesh’s cities and will cost a fraction of a conventional vehicle; just USD$1,900 to $2,500 compared to at least $30,000.
Able to accommodate three people, it has a maximum speed of 15-20 km per hour and a range of up to 50 km. Four 100-watt solar panels installed on the rooftop charge a bank of four 12-volt batteries that enable it to operate at night.
“The last layer of the development includes installation of a battery charging station (at a hospital or other site close by) that is completely fuelled by a solar canopy,” says A.K.M. Abdul Malek Azad, the project’s team leader and a professor at BRAC University in Dhaka.
“This step is taken to ensure complete independence of these electrically assisted rickshaws from the national grid.”
Five prototypes have been tested over the last 12 months and the new ambulances are expected to be on the roads of Bangladesh at the end of this year.
The project is the result of collaboration between BRAC University and local vehicle manufacturer Beevatech. Financing has been sourced from the World Bank via Bangladesh’s Infrastructure Development Company Limited; with seed funding provided by U.S. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
RACE CAR INSPIRATION
Azad said that, as far as he is aware, there is no equivalent elsewhere in the world of the solar-powered three-wheeler ambulance his team is developing. The inspiration for it came from solar racing cars in Australia.
"I thought if researchers can develop a solar racing car, there is potential to develop a solar ambulance," he said. A vehicle that would not be reliant for power on Bangladesh's overburned national power grid would be a bonus, he explained.
The new ambulance can accommodate three people. It has a maximum speed of 15-20 km per hour (9-12 mph), and a range of up to 50 km (30 miles).
By day it is powered by four 100-watt solar panels on the roof. At night it runs on four 12-volt batteries, which are charged from the solar panels.
"The last layer of the development includes installation of a battery charging station (at a hospital or other site close by) that is completely fuelled by a solar canopy," Azad said. "This step is taken to ensure complete independence of these electrically assisted rickshaws from the national grid."
The ambulance's battery can recharge in three to four hours, he said.
Azad said his team has built and tested five prototypes over the past year. The new ambulances are expected to hit the roads at the end of 2017.
He expects that buyers will include community clinics across the country run by the BRAC non-governmental organisation. Azad says officials of the BRAC Health and Nutrition Programme have assured the team they will consider using the vehicles in their clinics.
Dr. Shahana Nazneen of the BRAC Health and Nutrition Population Programme said that the vehicles are cost-effective and should be affordable for rural hospitals.
Habibur Rahman Khan, an additional secretary at the Health Ministry in charge of hospitals, agreed that the low-cost ambulance would help the ministry boost health facilities in rural areas.
"We will certainly consider purchasing (them) for rural hospitals," he said.
Proterra, the leading innovator in heavy-duty electric transportation,this week announced that it has raised $140 million in a Series 5 round. Proterra partnered with J.P. Morgan to close the equity funding, which was led by $40 million from an undisclosed investor, an additional $60 million from several new investors, and joined by existing board level investors Tao Capital Partners, Kleiner Perkins, GM Ventures, Constellation Technology Ventures, 88 Green Ventures, Edison Energy, Inc. and others. This growth equity financing signals an accelerated manufacturing phase for Proterra, as the company doubles production to meet growing customer demand across the United States.
The investment and increased valuation reflect the recent accomplishments of the Proterra team and its goal to set the gold standard for industry firsts in innovation. In September 2016, its engineering team unveiled what is now the world's most efficient battery system for heavy-duty transportation, offering a 350-mile nominal range in the new Catalyst E2 Series, capable of executing any typical U.S. mass transit route on a single charge. In addition, the company's 2016 sales awards more than doubled from 2015.
"2016 was an exceptional year for Proterra, and the future growth of this company looks just as promising as it hits a tipping point with transit agencies who are embracing the pivot from diesel- and CNG-powered buses to zero emission mass transit," said Rob Johnson, chairman of the Proterra board of directors and a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. "Proterra's new Catalyst E2 Series represents the first direct replacement for fossil-fueled buses. It is more cost-effective, offers positive public health and environmental benefits and simply outperforms diesel."
With $140 million of new capital, Proterra will dramatically accelerate production capacity on both coasts, while continuing to develop its next generation of heavy-duty electric vehicle products. Proterra aims to increase production in its East Coast facility, located in Greenville, South Carolina, by 300 percent and initiate production in its City of Industry facility in Los Angeles County. Combined, the facilities will more efficiently serve customers around the U.S. Proterra will hire key personnel in Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, and Greenville to support production growth, as well as implement new manufacturing equipment and systems.
"The size of the round and the diversity of our investors reflects what we're seeing around the world as institutions and businesses divest from fossil fuels," said Ryan Popple, Proterra CEO. "We thank our existing investors for their support and welcome our new investors as we continue to deliver on the promise of a cleaner future for all communities."
Proterra Catalyst E2 Series Sets New Industry Precedent with a Nominal Range of up to 350 Miles
The American Public Transit Association (APTA) Annual Meeting, Proterra, the leading innovator in heavy-duty electric transportation, unveiled the newest addition to its fleet of zero-emission vehicles: the Catalyst E2 series, named for its unprecedented Efficient Energy (E2) storage capacity of 440 - 660 kWh. Last month, an E2 series vehicle achieved a new milestone at Michelin's Laurens Proving Grounds where it logged more than 600 miles on a single charge under test conditions. Its nominal range of 194 - 350 miles means the Catalyst E2 series is capable of serving the full daily mileage needs of nearly every U.S. mass transit route on a single charge and offers the transit industry the first direct replacement for fossil-fueled transit vehicles. The high-mileage Catalyst E2 series joins the existing Catalyst FC and XR series vehicles, designed for circulator and intermediate-mileage routes, respectively.
Compelled by a total cost of ownership significantly lower than fossil fuel-based alternatives, transit agencies across the U.S. agree that diesel's dominance is waning, giving way to the economic and environmental benefits of battery-electric mass transportation:
J. Barry Barker, Executive Director, Transit Authority of River City: "TARC now has largest deployment of Proterra battery-electric buses east of the Mississippi. Providing both environmental benefits and cost savings, these buses are a symbol of Louisville's sustainability efforts. We are proud of these positive impacts and to call Proterra a partner, as they pass this key milestone in their journey as the foremost transport innovator in the world."
Doran Barnes, Executive Director at Foothill Transit: "We just surpassed one million miles of revenue service with our battery-electric Proterra fleet, and we're looking forward to many more miles to come. Since our first EV bus procurement with Proterra in 2010, we knew that zero-emission buses were the future of mass transit. Now, with the new Catalyst E2, this vision is a reality. We're excited by the possibilities of an all-electric future."
Jonathan Church, Administrator at Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA): "More and more, we're witnessing our neighbor agencies consider all-electric buses, as they see how well our Proterra buses have weathered some of the ugliest Northeast snow storms. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Proterra as their technology continues to expand within North America."
2.6 Million Miles and Counting
With annual sales already 220% higher than 2015, Proterra is experiencing a breakthrough year in the mass transit sector and expects the debut of the Catalyst E2 series to only further magnify this success. Doubling production in 2017 to serve unprecedented customer demand, Proterra will have both of its manufacturing lines in full operation in Greenville, S.C. and the City of Industry, Calif. To date, Proterra buses across the United States have completed over 2.5 million miles of revenue service, displacing 540,000 gallons of diesel, and eliminating over 10 million pounds of carbon emissions.
"Proterra's primary goal has always been to create a purpose-built, high-performance electric vehicle that can serve every single transit route in the United States. Today, with the unveiling of the Catalyst E2 Series, that goal has been achieved," said Ryan Popple, CEO of Proterra. "The question is no longer who will be an early adopter of this technology, but rather who will be the last to commit to a future of clean, efficient, and sustainable mobility. With the Catalyst E2 offering a no-compromise replacement for all fossil fuel buses, battery-electric vehicles have now broken down the final barrier to widespread market adoption."
High Hopes for Hydrogen-Powered Public Transit
Sumitomo Corporation together with Sumitomo Corporation of Americas (collectively referred to as "SC Group") announced this week their Strategic Collaboration Agreement with US Hybrid to support their desire to grow its fuel cell production business through the expansion of fuel cell stack production capacity for commercial production. SC Group will play an integral role in the project by coordinating the discussions with OEM's through their extensive business network.
US Hybrid, together with their Fuel Cell division, US FuelCell, has more than 26 years of experience in fuel cell balance of plant components and vehicle development and deployment. US FuelCell develops and manufactures new technologies and transportation products.
"Fuel cell vehicles offer high energy efficiency, no tailpipe emissions, and full vehicle functionality, including the normal driving range, fast fueling and a potential path to sustainable transportation. We highly respect Japanese automakers as a leader in commercializing fuel cell passenger vehicles, and we consider our new freeze capable, fuel cell powertrains to be a game-changer for the equally important market segments of medium and heavy duty trucks for freight movement and buses for public transit," said Abas Goodarzi, President of US Hybrid. "We are very pleased to be working with Sumitomo, as a global strategic business development partner, in order to commercialize our fuel cell engine and integrated vehicle technologies that have proven reliability for both on-road and off-road transportation."
SC Group is equally excited to be initiating this partnership. "By bridging US Hybrid's excellent technology and Sumitomo's deep relationships with OEMs, we are excited to contribute to this project and realize the potential for using clean hydrogen energy in commercial transportation," said Duke Kato, Senior Vice President at Sumitomo Corporation of Americas. "We view this partnership as an investment into the way mass transportation performs in the future, mitigating the negative impact on the environment."
SC Group has studied Hydrogen as a future clean energy source, including how fuel cell technologies can be applied to cars. In Japan the development of fuel cell technology has already been incorporated into passenger cars like the Toyota Mirai and Honda Clarity.
Through this research, SC Group has recognized the need to develop this clean energy technology for greater infrastructure needs, specifically applying it to public transportation. Reaching this agreement with US Hybrid will be an important next step in developing this technology, whose fuel cell application to public transit had been evaluated as one of the closest to the commercialization through demonstration projects in California, Hawaii, Ohio and Michigan. US Hybrid also marketed the first freeze-capable integrated fuel cell engine for medium and heavy-duty vehicles at the Hannover Messe Hydrogen and Fuel Cells and Batteries Fair this past April.
The Innovation Train
Jumpstartfund's Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, Inc. (HTT) has agreed to collaborate with Deutsche Bahn to create an "Innovation Train": a conventional train that will use new technologies being developed by HTT for the Hyperloop to increase efficiency and bring a modern digital presence to today's train transportation.
HTT's unique approach to creating the Hyperloop system has led to the development of additional technologies such as augmented reality windows and a digital ecosystem through its community. These developments will supplement the train technology Deutsche Bahn is known for building around the world. The partnership is part of HTT's goals of making transportation enjoyable and profitable again by implementing more forward-thinking technologies into traditional ones.
Hyperloop Augmented Reality Windows
for the Innovation Train
The project, which starts next week, will utilize Hyperloop Transportation Technologies crowdsourcing and community collaboration, while implementations will be financed by Deutsche Bahn. The project is broken down into phases including research, usage scenarios, design concepts, design finalization and implementation. The train will be ready for passengers to test the new technologies by the beginning of 2017. More information about how to collaborate on the project can be found at hyperloop.global.
"One of the biggest issues in public transportation is the need for public subsidies," said Dirk Ahlborn, HTT CEO. "New technologies and new ideas, can create a better passenger experience while solving these issues through new monetization strategies and business models, with the Hyperloop and all other forms of transportation."
"We have combined our strong development capabilities for digital technology with Hyperloop Transportation Technologies in order to integrate new ideas and innovative prototypes into our local passenger train service," said Christoph Kraller, managing director of the SOB. "The creation of a digital travel companion in cooperation with Hyperloop continues our steady progress forward."
"We see this partnership as a validation of the technology we're developing and as proof that the nature of our business model is working," said HTT Chairman Bibop Gresta. "Our company structure lends itself to more collaborative partnerships that are attractive to forward-thinking organizations like Deutsche Bahn."
World's First Solar Energy-Run Metro
Total and SunPower Corp. announced this week that SunPower has signed a power purchase agreement for the supply of 300 gigawatt hours per year of clean solar energy to Metro of Santiago. With this agreement, Metro of Santiago will become the first public transportation system in the world to run mostly on solar energy. Metro of Santiago currently serves 2.2 million passengers per day.
The power will be generated from the El Pelícano Solar Project, a 100-megawatt (AC) project near the municipalities of La Higuera (Coquimbo Region) and Vallenar (Atacama Region). Construction of the solar power plant will begin this year, with expected operation by the end of 2017.
"This contract is expressing Chile's commitment for a sustainable world. We are proud to partner with Metro in developing a new way of powering public transportation systems through competitive, reliable and clean energy. This project supports our ambition to become the responsible energy major," says Bernard Clément, senior vice president of Business & Operations, of the New Energies division of Total.
"SunPower is proud to serve Metro of Santiago's growing energy demand with cost-competitive, renewable solar power," said Eduardo Medina, executive vice president, global power plants, SunPower. "Solar is an ideal energy source for Chile because of the country's high solar resource and transparent energy policies. In partnership with Total, SunPower is committed to the continued growth of our business in Chile."
SunPower, a leading global solar technology company and an affiliate of Total, will design and build the project and provide operations and maintenance once it is operational. The company will construct a SunPower® Oasis® power plant system at the site. The Oasis system is a fully-integrated, modular solar power block that is engineered for rapid and cost-effective deployment of utility-scale solar projects while optimizing land use. The technology includes robotic solar panel cleaning capability that uses 75 percent less water than traditional cleaning methods and can help improve system performance by up to 15 percent.
Slovakia Reaches Agreement with
We are very happy to see Slovakia again showing leadership when it comes to embracing innovation that reflects the principals of sustainability. This time it has to do with mass transportation.
Slovakian government officials met with JumpStartFund's Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, Inc. (HTT) last week to finalize and sign an agreement to explore building a local Hyperloop system, with the vision of creating future routes connecting Bratislava with Vienna, Austria and Budapest, Hungary.
"Slovakia is a technological leader in the automotive, material science, and energy industries, many of the areas that are integral to the Hyperloop system," said Dirk Ahlborn, HTT CEO. "Having a European Hyperloop presence will incentivize collaboration and innovation within Slovakia and throughout Europe. With our project in Quay Valley, this agreement with Slovakia, and future developments with other regions of the world, HTT truly has become a global movement."
"Hyperloop in Europe would cut distances substantially and network cities in unprecedented ways. A transportation system of this kind would redefine the concept of commuting and boost cross-border cooperation in Europe," said Vazil Hudak, Minister of Economy of the Slovak Republic. "The expansion of Hyperloop will lead to an increased demand for the creation of new innovation hubs, in Slovakia and all over Europe."
A Bratislava-to-Vienna route could take about 8 minutes at Hyperloop's full speed; a Bratislava-to-Budapest route just 10 minutes. A route between Bratislava and Košice—a distance of 400 kilometers (250 miles)—could also be considered and would connect the eastern and western sides of Slovakia with a short trip of only 25 minutes, reducing the typical 4.5 hour car ride dramatically.
"In 1896 the first electric underground railway system was built in Budapest and already in 1914 the first electric trainline between Bratislava and Vienna was created," said Bibop Gresta, HTT COO. "Slovakia continues to confirm its position as one of the most forward thinking countries by embracing innovations like the Hyperloop transportation system."
An All Electric Big-Rig, Has The Time Come?
Minnesota’s Freedom Trucking is using lithium-ion battery systems from Oakridge Global Energy Solutions in its fully electric interstate truck propulsion system.
The system enables interstate trucks with a gross vehicle weight of approximately 36 tonnes to travel more than 640 kilometers between charges.
“The custom battery design for Freedom Trucking is an absolute game changer,” said Oakridge Executive Chairman and CEO, Steve Barber.
"With our new custom battery systems, we have now greatly expanded the effective range of the electric truck, now making them a practical reality for immediate application to the interstate trucking business, while at the same time providing a much safer, low maintenance vehicle by virtue of the more robust chemistry and the battery management systems we have designed for this product.”
An initial analysis for Freedom Trucking carried out by the US Department of Transportation indicates using fully electric trucks to move cargo will save in excess of USD $0.60 per mile over traditional diesel in fuel costs, maintenance costs, and weight. That works out to be a saving of around a dollar per kilometre in Australian currency at current exchange rates.
The other saving is in the bigger picture – the environmental benefits; particularly if the trucks are recharged using electricity generated from renewable energy sources such as hydro, wind or solar power.
Last week, Oakridge Global Energy Solutions also launched a lithium ion battery for Harley Davidson, Indian and Victory motorcycles.
The batteries can remove more than 7 kilos from the weight of the largest bikes and the company says they can go without charging for up to 12 months and still start a large motorcycle. Oakridge says its Liberty Series batteries have a typical self- discharge of 1% or less per month compared to the 10% – 15% self-discharge of traditional lead acid and AGM cells.
Oakridge Global Energy Solutions manufactures battery management systems and batteries for a wide range of applications. It has projected sales for 2016 of USD $140 million, with sales within 4 years of around $1 billion. The company has also indicated plans to expand its presence in a variety of markets throughout Europe, Australasia and Japan.
Uganda Launches 1st Solar Bus in Africa
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni launches the “Kayoola Solar Bus,” a first of its kind in Africa, as part of the USD 145 Million Kiira Motors Corporation’s investment for vehicle production commencement in 2018.
Congrats to Uganda for moving toward a more sustainable community and showing leadership when it comes to embracing positive change. This is something we'll be watching.
Kampala, Uganda 16th Feb 2016: Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni launched the “Kayoola Solar Bus” model bus that is a first of its kind in the continent, marking the entry of Uganda into the billion dollar global automotive economy.
“We are here to celebrate the Ugandan innovator with a mission to industrialize our nation,” said President Yoweri Museveni, referring to the Kiira Motors team that he commissioned in 2009, through the Presidential Initiative for Science and Technology Innovations.
“The Kayoola Solar Bus has the golden stamp of “MADE IN UGANDA. Our scientists have made us proud, “he added, as he reiterated the Ugandan government’s commitment to the funding required to see Kiira Motors Corporation start manufacturing as proposed in 2018 and establish a sustainable automotive industry in Uganda.
“Uganda is now ready to industrialize. The energy is ready; the infrastructure is ready; the economy is ready; and most important of all, our people are ready. This model bus you see in front of us today is a symbol of our capabilities “.He further stated that the project will create over 12,000 Jobs in the capital expenditure phase and over 2,000 in the operational expenditure phase.
The USD 145 million budget will be used over a period of 5 years (2016 – 2021) to develop key infrastructure at the Uganda Investment Authority’s Jinja Industrial and Business Park that will host the Kiira Motor Corporation, and a research and development program that will equip over 200 key personnel with global skills and exposure required for this visionary project.
The Kayoola Solar Bus, is critical to the achievement of Uganda’s Vision 2040;”A Transformed Ugandan Society, From a Peasant to a Modern and Prosperous Country within 30 Years”. Within the vision, is the National Development Plan II, which seeks to strengthen Uganda’s competitiveness for sustainable wealth creation, employment and inclusive growth, with an emphasis on science, technological Innovation and industrialization.
The ultimate goal is to establish Kiira Motors Corporation as the first Automotive Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) in East and Central Africa producing pick-ups, SUVs, Sedans, light & medium duty trucks and buses.
Speaking during the launch, Kiira Motors Corporation CEO Paul Isaac Musasizi, described the Kayoola Solar Bus development as “An East African Affair”, as he listed the input of Kenyan glass suppliers and experts who manufactured and fitted the glass work. He commended the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), as one of the supporting regional initiatives, that will be used to transport raw materials and finished goods between Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and South Sudan.
Designed as a 35-seater electric solar bus with zero tailpipe emissions, the Kayoola Solar Bus has a powertrain architecture based on two battery banks .The primary battery bank supplies electrical energy to the propulsion motor while the secondary power bank is available for charging, either in real time using the onboard solar charging system or the plug-in charger system. The solar panels are mounted on the roof, taking full advantage of Uganda’s exceptional position at the Equator. The primary and secondary roles are transient from a physical perspective of the electrical installations.
“Beyond local consumption which is in excess of 45,000 vehicles that are imported into Uganda every year, the Kayoola Solar Bus will be exported to markets as far as China, who have a shortfall supply of up to 2 million vehicles per year. “Iron ore deposits, estimated to be over 260 million metric tons and oil deposits in Uganda will be a key source of raw material for the automotive industry in Uganda, “he further explained.
“The savings expected per 100km using the Kayoola Solar Bus, compared to the conventional diesel powered buses is expected to be 63%, providing a lower cost mass transportation solution as well as assuring profitability when in service,” he concluded as he invited President Museveni to officially launch the model bus and take a ride on the bus.
Solar roads are no joke,
and Europe is laying them fast.
If the project should go ahead and achieve its full potential, it could supply 5 million people with electricity; approximately 8% of France’s population.
Wattway solar panels are glued onto existing roads rather than replacing the road surface, such as is the case in another product we’ve covered in the past; Solar Roadways.
“A mere 20 m² of Wattway can produce enough electricity to supply a single household (not including heating),” states Colas.
“This cutting-edge solar technology will provide renewable energy as close as possible to where electricity consumption is the highest and demand is constantly increasing.”
The company envisions Wattway also being used in remote areas where connection to the mains grid is difficult and expensive.
Colas says the composite material is just a few millimeters thick and can adapt to thermal expansion in road surfaces. The solar cells are inserted in superposed layers that ensure resistance and tire grip.
Wattway Solar Road
In December Colas presented Wattway at COP21 and a 20 m² section of the solar road was installed at the entrance of the Parc des Expositions Paris-Le Bourget.
The company won a Climate Solutions award at COP21 for Wattway; in the Mitigation – Large Enterprise category.
If products such as Wattway do prove to be economically viable, technically feasible and easily maintained over the long term, the potential for clean power generation is huge.
According to RoadTraffic Technology, just in the USA there’s around 4.3 million kilometres of paved roads; including 76,334km of expressways.
Safe and Sustainable Snow Fighting
After this past weekend’s blizzard that hit the East Coast of the United States, we began to ask ourselves, "Is there a smart and sustainable way of managing the havoc a blizzard causes along the roads and highways?" Well to our surprise, there actually was published a Snowfighter’s Handbook entitled Safe and Sustainable Snowfightiing, that is released by The Salt Institute is a North American based non-profit trade association dedicated to advancing the many benefits of salt,
particularly to ensure winter roadway safety, quality water and healthy nutrition.
Here is a bit of how they describe Sustainable Snowfighting:
Sustainable Snowfighting provides safepavement in an environmentally sensitive manner. By preventing the bonding of snow and ice to pavement and clearing all snow and ice from pavements as soon as possible, snow fighting materials are used most efficiently with minimal loss to the environment. Benefits of this high maintenance are apparent:
• Traffic keeps moving.
• Commerce and industry go on at near normal pace.
• There are fewer accidents, injuries and deaths.
• Minimal environmental impact.
• Emergency vehicles get through.
The public is less tolerant of failure in snow and ice control than in any other highway or street department function. A snowstorm affects the entire community — often entire states. Unless a storm is handled capably by maintenance forces, it can upset considerably the daily routines of individuals, endangering public safety and adversely affecting business and commerce.
Well it might not have that memorable crew from the 70s hit show, “The Love Boat,” but the Ecoship has its own cast putting it into development, and they’re calling it the “Peace Boat.”
The design for the world’s “greenest” cruise ship has been finalized, and its maiden voyage in 2020 will be announced at COP21.
The plans for this whole-system, future-ready 55,000 ton cruise ship have been developed by a world-class team of over 30 engineers, scientists and thinkers from the fields of ship-building and cutting-edge eco-technology (including renewable energy, architecture, biophilia and waste management). The Ecoship Project is the brainchild of Peace Boat, a Japan-based NGO, which has been running educational voyages for peace and sustainability since 1983.
With a stunning hull form inspired by the whale, the vessel’s ecologically friendly features include 10 retractable solar-panelled sails and retractable wind generators, as well as a future-ready hybrid engine. Together with its projected cuts of CO2 emissions and impressive energy efficiency, Peace Boat’s Ecoship will be the flagship for green technology in passenger shipping, serving as a model for cruise operators worldwide.
The global shipping industry is one of the major contributors to GHG emissions. While the cruise industry represents only a tiny fraction of world shipping, it still comprises hundreds of large ships visiting pristine marine areas and must contribute to the agenda of solutions. Further, cruising is the most publically visible interaction between modern shipping and the public and thus has the greatest potential to raise awareness and effect change across the industry as a whole.
“Peace Boat’s 2020 launch of the Ecoship offers a vision for a climate-friendly future and can lead the way towards a green cruising model that can also impact the wider shipping industry. The industry must adapt to the planet’s needs.” Explains Yoshioka Tatsuya, Founder and Director of Peace Boat.
“We are delighted to see wind propulsion being used on this innovative cruise ship design. The Ecoship will be a front runner in the design of lower impact cruise vessels and we will be working with the industry segment to help bring more wind propulsion solutions into the mix.” Said Gavin Allwright, Secretary of the International Windship Association (IWSA), “IWSA has recently welcomed Peace Boat onboard as one of our newest members, and we look forward to working together over the coming years, helping to spread the message of low carbon, sustainable shipping worldwide.”
The Ecoship will also embody sustainability efforts through its activities. It will sail for Peace Boat’s around the world educational voyages carrying 5000 people per year; host exhibitions of green technology in up to 80 ports annually; and serve as a floating sustainability laboratory able to contribute to research on the ocean, climate and green marine tech.
This awareness-building imperative is paramount for Peace Boat, which has Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations and serves as an official messenger for projects including the UNISDR Resilient Cities Campaign. Peace Boat was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008 and has sailed on over 80 voyages, carrying more than 50,000 people to over 180 ports.
“Peace Boat’s Ecoship sailing the oceans and cooperating with communities in port will be a wonderful symbol of the interconnectedness of peace and sustainability.” Said Wanjira Mathai, Director of Parternships for Women Entrepreneurs in Renewables (WPOWER Hub) the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace & Environmental Studies.
SkyTran’s Sky Taxis Are Making Their Debut
The antenna system of public transport has “cars” that are magnetically Glide from 20 to 30 feet above the ground along the elevated tracks.
SkyTran, based in Mountain View, California, has been developing the system for five years. The pilot project will debut in Tel Aviv at the end of October.
The system will run for approximately 900 feet on the campus of Israel Aerospace Industries, which in partnership with SkyTran develop the car.
Initially, only one car will run on the track. The car, which can accommodate up to four people can travel as fast as 60 miles per hour. SkyTran hopes to eventually add a few more cars to debut its system.
If all goes well, the company hopes to expand to at least three other Israeli cities and some cities in the US in 2018.
Overhead view of transport is cheaper and easier than building railways and subways – and it is also more environmentally friendly, Jerry Sanders said CEO SkyTran.
“That’s why we believe that it is important for the public transport system,” he said, adding that the underground system can cost anywhere between $ 100 million and $ 2 billion per kilometer.
“Systems ground and eat up a lot of energy with its large infrastructure and carbon footprint,” he said. ”
SkyTran, meanwhile, is worth about $ 8 million km, and cars cost between $ 25,000 and $ 30,000 each. “It also uses one-third the energy of the hybrid vehicle,” said Sanders.
Compared to the cost of maintaining and expanding existing mass transit systems Sanders said SkyTran is a bargain for the city.
SkyTran system is made of steel and aluminum. Sanders said the whole system can be assembled and installed in just a few days.
The system uses magnetic levitation to move the car. In other words, electromagnets to produce lift and make the movement of cars ahead, making energy efficient system.
This technology is particularly useful in countries where electricity is not reliable.
Several US cities have already expressed interest in the systems SkyTran, Sanders said, including Baltimore Inglewood, California. SkyTran hopes to begin construction of its system in Baltimore next year.
“Any one of these two cities could be our next pilot systems in the near future,” he said, adding that major airports such as Paris Charles de Gaulle and his consideration.
Venture fund innovative efforts Google (GOOG) Chairman Eric Schmidt as a multimillion-dollar investment in the seed SkyTran in. (Sanders declined to disclose the exact amount).
This, he hopes, will legitimize SkyTran system as an efficient transport system in the future.
Solar Road, A Solution Right Beneath Our Feet
Transport infrastructure specialist Colas has unveiled their Wattway solar road product at the World Efficiency Congress in Paris.
Wattway panels are comprised of solar cells embedded in a multilayer substrate. On the underside of the modules, which are just a few millimetres thick, are connections to a lateral module containing the electrical safety components.
The company claims the panels can stand up to all sorts of punishment, including what would be meted out by trucks.
Unlike some of the other solar road solutions we’ve seen over the years, one of the standout features of this product is the Wattway solar panels are installed directly on the pavement, without any additional civil engineering work says Colas.
The company says 20 m² of Wattway panels can supply the non-heating electricity requirements of a single home. Applied to a kilometre of road, it could provide enough electricity to power the street lighting of a town of 5,000 people.
In partnership with the French National Institute for Solar Energy, Colas has invested 5 years of research and development to produce Wattway; which is protected by two patents..
Wattway isn’t vapourware – Colas says the product is market-ready; albeit in small sections. It will take several years for Colas to ramp up enough to supply for multi-kilometre stretches.
“Today, our Wattway process is unique on a global level. The solar road will play a part in the energy transition, and is a building block for Smart Cities,” said Hervé Le Bouc, Chairman and CEO of Colas.
Colas also sees potential for the product to be used for off-grid settings in rural and remote areas as the basis of mini-grids.
Colas knows a thing or two about roads. Founded in 1929, the company undertakes more than 100,000 projects each year; 80% of those involving road construction, maintenance and materials supply. If the company’s road know-how is replicated in the field of solar PV; then they may well be onto a winner with Wattway.
India’s First Solar Powered Airport
India’s Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) is about to become the first airport in the country to be powered by the sun.
Stating it would be “absolutely power neutral” as a result, solar panels will be installed on a 45 acre plot of land near CIAL’s cargo complex.
The 12MWp array consists of solar panels produced by Renesola and ABB solar inverters. The power station will generate an estimated 48,000 kilowatt-hours of clean electricity daily and avoid the production of 300,000 tonnes of carbon equivalent emissions annually.
It’s not the first time solar has been installed at the airport. In 2013, a 100 kWp PV array was commissioned on the rooftop of the Arrival Terminal Block. Following that project was a one-megawatt installation – the first megawatt scale solar PV project in the State of Kerala.
With the existing installations, solar is expected to generate 50,000 to 60,000 kilowatt-hours a day for CIAL; enough to power all the airport’s operations.
The plant is expected to be commissioned sometime in August 2015.
Cochin International Airport is located 28 km northeast of Kochi in an area known as Nedumbassery.
Touted as India’s first “truly eco airport”, CIAL is the nation’s 4th largest international airport in terms of international passenger traffic. Annual passenger traffic reached 6.4 million in 2014-15.
CIAL was India’s first greenfield airport (constructed from scratch on unused land) built under a public/ private partnership.
CIAL has realised that “going green” is more than just about warm and fuzzy concepts – it can positively impact on the bottom line.
“Acts of corporate social responsibility can yield genuine financial benefit as well as competitive advantage,” says a statement on the airport’s web site. “So, CIAL is implementing ambitious environmental as well as eco friendly initiatives to enhance its overall productivity and profitability.”
Airports around the world have been increasingly making use of their unused land by installing solar; either to produce electricity for on-site consumption or to generate revenue through hosting third party installations.
Record Breaking! Japan To Hawaii Leg
for Solar Impulse 2
Early Saturday morning Australian time, Solar Impulse 2 arrived safely in Hawaii after a historic flight that broke multiple records.
André Borschberg landed the solar powered airplane in Kalaeloa after a non-stop flight of 5 days and nights (4 Days, 21 Hours, 52 Minutes to be exact). Well before the landing, after nearly three days and nights, Mr. Borschberg broke a durance and distance records he had set in early June – 44 hours, 10 minutes, and 2,614.5 kilometers.
7212 km was covered by Solar Impulse 2 in the Japan to Hawaii leg, fully on solar energy. The 72 metre wingspan craft is coated in 17,000 solar cells that power four electric motors and charge a lithium ion battery bank weighing well over half a tonne.
“What André has achieved is extraordinary from the perspective of a pilot,” said teammate Bertrand Piccard. “This oceanic flight to Hawaii demonstrates that if technological solutions exist to fly a plane day and night without fuel, then there is potential for these same efficient technologies to be used in our daily lives, and to achieve energy savings to reduce CO2 emissions.”
Mr. Piccard said he hopes the feat inspires people to signs a petition on FutureIsClean.org; which serves to try and convince governments around the world to boost uptake of clean technology solutions.
Mr. Borschberg, who also led the project’s technical team, was ecstatic about his accomplishment.
“I feel exhilarated by this extraordinary journey,” he said. “This success fully validates the vision that my partner Bertrand Piccard had after his round-the-world balloon flight to reach unlimited endurance in an airplane without fuel.”
The journey was made possible in part by technology partner, solar inverter manufacturer ABB. ABB’s expertise resulted in boosted power yields from the solar cells and enhanced the charging electronics for Solar Impulse 2’s Li-ion battery systems.
“Solar Impulse flies to Hawaii – and into history. Congratulations, Solar Impulse! You inspire the world,” said ABB.
After a well- earned break, Solar Impulse’s next stops are within continental USA before it tackles another formidable challenge – across the Atlantic Ocean to southern Europe or North Africa.
Solar Impulse 2 Past The Point Of No Return
The Solar Impulse 2 team reports pilot André Borschberg has passed the “point of no return” and must now see the 5 days and 5 nights solar powered flight from Japan to Hawaii through to the end.
After beginning its epic journey in early March, the Solar Impulse team found themselves grounded in Japan for weeks due to weather and technical issues. While in Japan, a wing of the aircraft was damaged by wind gusts; necessitating a lengthy repair.
The team came under increased pressure recently when it became clear if they weren’t able to resume the journey, the plane could be stuck in Japan for a year.
After an abandoned attempt last week to take to the skies, Solar Impulse 2 is soaring again.
At the time of writing, Solar Impulse 2 was traveling at an altitude of 4719 metres and at a speed of 55.1 knots. Its batteries were 99% charged.
Solar Impulse 2 has a 72 metre wingspan and was constructed around a carbon fiber frame. 17,000 thin film solar cells that coat much of the topside of the plane power four electric motors and charge a hefty lithium ion battery bank weighing over 600 kilograms.
The total weight of the craft is just 2.3 tonnes, including batteries.
The plane has a maximum speed of 77 kts (140 km/h) and a cruise speed of 49 kts (90 km/h) during daylight hours. It can operate as high as 12,000 metres.
The journey to Hawaii is 7,900 kilometers, with nowhere to land before the destination. It’s certainly quite a risky, make or break situation and many will be tracking Mr. Borschberg’s efforts via the Solar Impulse tracker.
Solar Impulse’s success may lie in part with an innovation and technology alliance with solar inverter manufacturer ABB. ABB assisted by improving power yields from the solar cells and enhanced the charging electronics for the plane’s battery systems.
After reaching Hawaii, Solar Impulse will then go on to Phoenix, Arizona, then several other locations in the USA before heading to Southern Europe or Morocco before reaching its final destination; Abu Dhabi. Having done so, it will be the first solar airplane to have circumnavigated the Earth.
First Hydrogen Powered
Tram developed in China
Trams fueled by hydrogen could soon be appearing on the streets of China. The country has mastered the technique of using this clean energy source, which has been widely used elsewhere for cars and other forms of mass transport.
According to Liang Jianying, who is the chief engineer of the Sifang Company, a subsidiary of the China South Rail Corporation, this is the first time a hydrogen-powered tram has been developed. It was built in Qingdao, a city 650 kilometers southeast of the capital Beijing.
"It took two years for Sifang to solve key technological problems, with the help of research institutions," Liang said, according to the local Xinhua news agency.
The advantages of hydrogen-powered trams are numerous. Firstly, it’s a source of clean energy, with water being its only emission. The new mode of transport will also help to cut energy running costs. It has enough power to run for about 100 kilometers, at a top speed of around 70 km/h, while the biggest plus is it only takes about three minutes to refuel.
"The average distance of tramcar lines in China is about 15 kilometers, which means one refill for our tram is enough for three round trips," Liang added.
Liang also noted that the new tram would not produce any nitrogen oxides, as the temperature of the reaction inside the fuel cell will be kept under control at 100 degrees Celsius.
The report stated that each tram has over 60 seats and can carry at least 380 passengers.
The need for green transportation is pressing in China, with around 90 percent of its cities falling below the threshold for air safety standards in 2014, according to the Chinese Environmental Protection Ministry.
The “war on pollution," started a year earlier, is having some effect, but hazardous emergencies are still numbered in the hundreds, the ministry noted.
A recent study by Cambridge Econometrics, commissioned by the European Climate Foundation, found just how cost effective hydrogen fuel cells can be. They carried out a survey on electric cars and found if they were used en masse, UK motorists would save £13 billion ($19.4 billion) in fuel costs, while the country would cut its oil imports by 40 percent by 2030.
The reduction in pollutants such as nitrogen, oxide and particulates would in turn produce health benefits of over £1 billion by reducing the rate of respiratory diseases.
“There will be a transition in the next five to 10 years, but you won’t see a sudden shift to electric vehicles until consumers have got over their ‘range anxiety’ concerns and that will only happen with infrastructure spending,” said Philip Summerton, one of the report’s authors.
Texelstroom - Solar Assisted Ferry
The 1,750-passenger, 350-vehicle, double ended ferry Texelstroom will be a unique craft.
Featuring two independent engine rooms, one will be fitted with two ABC diesel engines and the other with two ABC dual fuel engines; both 2 x 2000 kW.
The dual fuel engines will start in diesel mode, but change over to dual fuel after a few minutes and its envisioned the ferry will operate mainly on natural gas. The Texelstroom will be able to achieve speeds of of 10 knots (economy) and 15 knots (maximum).
The craft will also feature a 700m² array of solar panels and a deep cycle battery bank; which will deliver auxiliary power.
Ordered by Royal N.V. Texels Eigen Stoomboot Onderneming (TESO), the ferry will be constructed at the LaNaval Shipyard in Spain.
Texelstroom will be delivered end of 2015, followed by four months of final commissioning and training before entering service. The ferry will operate daily from Den Helder and Texel in North Holland, the Netherlands.
"Winning the contract for this highly innovative ferry demonstrates LR’s ability to help shipowners manage the introduction of new technology with confidence," said John Hicks, VP for Global Passenger Ships, Lloyd’s Register .
"Our teams in Spain and the Netherlands helped the client in delivering solutions to the engineering and regulatory challenges involved in this exciting contract. This is a robust design with the ability to operate in safety and efficiency in all conditions."
TESO's efforts towards sustainability go beyond the Texelstroom.
"Every day TESO sails across the beautiful yet vulnerable Wadden Sea. We therefore aim at further increasing sustainability in our services," states the TESO web site.
The firm says it was the first shipping company in the world to trial the comparatively cleaner GTL diesel in 2007; which is virtually free of sulphur and aromatics. GTL stands for Gas To Liquids - a process that converts natural gas to petrol or diesel fuel.
TESO says that since 2008, the company has been able to reduce its carbon emissions by 30% through the use of bio-diesel and a special additive.
Other sustainability efforts include the use of waterless urinals on the ferry Dokter Wagemaker; which TESO says has led to annual savings of 150,000 litres of potable water.
Volvo Building Electric Roads
The Volvo Group is now taking the next step in the development of sustainable transport solutions. In collaboration with the Swedish Transport Administration, the Volvo Group will study the potential for building electric roads, where city buses can be charged from electricity in the road at the same time as the bus is in operation. The benefit is quieter and more climate-smart public transport. A 300- to 500-meter electric road may be built for test operations in central Gothenburg during 2015.
Vehicles capable of being charged directly from the road during operation could become the next pioneering step in the development towards reduced environmental impact, and this is fully in line with our vision of becoming the world leader in sustainable transport solutions. Close cooperation between society and industry is needed for such a development to be possible and we look forward to investigating the possibilities together with the City of Gothenburg,” says Niklas Gustavsson, Executive Vice President, Corporate Sustainability & Public Affairs of the Volvo Group.
With the use of an electric road, vehicle batteries would continuously be charged wirelessly during operation by transferring energy from the electricity grid to a vehicle, instead of charging the bus while it is standing still at charging stations. The technology being studied is called inductive charging, whereby the energy is transferred wirelessly to the underside of the vehicle by equipment built into the road.
The Volvo Group will develop a detailed proposal within the framework of innovation procurement from the Swedish Transport Administration. The proposal entails building a road section equipped with wireless charge technology and developing vehicles that will automatically charge their batteries when passing such a road section. The road will be built along a suitable bus line in central Gothenburg and be tested for public transport. Experiences from such a test track will provide valuable knowledge for future political and industrial decisions for establishing electric roads.
For several years, the Volvo Group has been offering hybrid buses with a traditional diesel engine that is supplemented by an electrical engine to reduce CO2 emissions. Three Volvo plug-in-hybrid buses are already in operation in Gothenburg (project Hyper Bus*), which charge their batteries at the end stations of line 60. The next stage of development is for these types of buses to be able to charge their batteries while in operation, thus increasing the distance the buses can run on pure electricity. And this is exactly what will be studied now. In 2015, a new bus line, ElectriCity, will become operational between Chalmers and Lindholmen in Gothenburg. This line will also provide additional knowledge of charging technology and electric power for heavy vehicles. “We are working on both a broad and a deep basis to develop the technology of tomorrow. Electric roads are another important part of the puzzle in our aim of achieving transport solutions that will minimize the impact on the environment,” says Niklas Gustavsson.
European Cities Speeding Up Hydrogen
Fuel Cell Bus Deployment
Europeans are steping towards the development of a European Network of Clean Hydrogen Bus Centres of Excellence as representatives of the transport authorities of Riviera Trasporti in Liguria, De Lijn in Flanders, along with representatives of the city of Aberdeen, all engaged in the deployment of fuel cell buses as part of the EU co-financed High V.LO City project earlier this year.
The High V.LO-City Centres of Excellence are intended to be a point of reference on the deployment and operation of fuel cell buses in public transport and to reach out to public transport authorities, bus operators, and passengers’ organisations, as well as to the general public. The Centres of Excellence will be key in linking potential fuel cell bus sites to existing ones that are already operating fuel cell bus projects.
Supported by the regions of Flanders (Belgium), Liguria (Italy) and the City of Aberdeen (Scotland) and co-financed by the EU Joint Undertaking for Fuel Cells and Hydrogen (FCH- JU), the project is deploying highly efficient fuel cell hydrogen buses, linking them with existing locations throughout Europe. The project is known under the acronym “High V.LO-City”, referring to its objective to accelerate the integration of hydrogen buses in public fleets throughout Europe.
Building on the commitments of the public transport operators of the project demonstration sites, San Remo (5 buses), Antwerp (5 buses) and Aberdeen (4 buses), the High V.LO-City project will demonstrate the economic and technical viability of these buses and of intelligent infrastructure solutions, to speed up a broader market introduction in the next few years.
The High V.LO-City project partners officially committed to the establishment of the Centres of Excellence at the Busworld Academy meeting taking place last Friday, 17 January 2014 at the Rumbeke Castle in Roeselare, also known as the Water (“H2O!”) Castle. Through collaboration with the Busworld Academy, High V.LO-City seeks to reach an important target audience of bus operators and transport authorities, as well as passengers’ organisations.
Paul Jenné, High V.LO-City project coordinator, said: “It is of paramount importance to learn and share information with relevant stakeholders on the performance of the fuel cell and hydrogen technologies in public transport. The European Network of Clean Hydrogen Bus Centres of Excellence is an essential step in this direction. As project coordinator we are very pleased to see that the public transport operators and cities of the project are committed to the Centres of Excellence.”
Councillor Barney Crockett, Aberdeen City Council leader said: “We are determined to define the image of an international 21st century energy city and to lead a leaner, cleaner industrial revolution. Hydrogen technology and transport will play a large part in that vision and the council and its partners have a strong role to play in realising that vision. Aberdeen is world-famous for its expertise in offshore oil and gas production. Those skills are finding root in offshore renewables. We’re now adding the third component – a hydrogen economy. We are absolutely committed to ensuring that Aberdeen continues to play a leading role in the development of hydrogen technologies and infrastructure and to demonstrating the benefits of green transport.”
Roger Kesteloot, Director General of the Flemish bus operators company, De Lijn, said: “De Lijn is close to its passengers and offers an extensive range of sustainable and high-quality transport solution. With the 5 fuel cell buses to be operated in Antwerp, we will gain experience in the daily operation of fuel cell buses and are committed to share our knowledge and best practices with interested transport authorities through the Centre of Excellence to be established in Antwerp.”
Sandro Corrado, CEO of the Italian bus operator Rivera Trasporti, said: “Riviera Transporti has been committed to clean technologies for a long time, currently operating a fleet of trolleybuses (electric buses) that however has significant infrastructure maintenance costs. Thanks to High V.LO-City, we will substitute part of our trolley bus fleet with fuel cell buses. We are pleased to share our experience with interested transport authorities through the new Centre of Excellence in San Remo.”
Stefan Meersseman, president of Busworld Academy, said: “We are very pleased to collaborate with High V.LO-City and to witness the commitment of the High V.LO-City operators and cities at the occasion of our second Busworld Academy meeting in Roeselare. As a network of transport operators, we look forward to discovering the benefits and challenges of clean technologies such as the fuel cell and hydrogen technologies in public transport”.
Worcester, MA, & Future of Electric Busing
Over the last few weeks Renewable Now has found itself reporting from the historic city of Worcester, Massachusetts on a number of great stories having to do with sustainability. Last week it was the Geothermal Workshop from Clark University that was organized by REI, and this week we are introduced to Worcester's electric bus fleet.
Once known as a center of machinery, wire products, and large manufactures, Washburn & Moen, Wyman-Gordon Company, American Steel & Wire, Morgan Construction and the Norton Company in the early 1900s. Today Worcester is a dramatically different place hosting numerous colleges, and universities the city is going through a revitalization. And from what ReNewable Now has seen they are very aggressive when it comes to clean energy, and alternative forms sustainability.
We had the good fortune to spend a day with Stephen O’Neil, Director of the Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA) who shared with us the city's electric bus project. A project that has a grand total of 6 EV buses, the WRTA will operate the largest electric bus fleet in the Northeast.
The motivation to implement an electric fleet of public transit buses began with the practical consideration of rising fuel costs. The promise of cost-effective electric technology and a desire to be less dependent on fossil-fuels inspired the WRTA to apply for a Federal Transit Authority Clean Fuels grant. With a grant of $4.5 million awarded in 2012, the WRTA purchased three electric buses and fast-charging equipment. The grant was the second largest awarded in 2012 for electric vehicles (EV) and equipment.
Steve also explains to us the new EV buses are expected to save on the cost of diesel fuel without disruption to the transit schedule. A standard 18-ton EV bus will charge completely in ten minutes. Only five to six minutes are necessary to get the battery to a “sweet-spot” (between 20-80% of full charge). This level of charge is adequate for EV buses to run about 22-30 miles and still adhere to their schedule. Aside from some initial charging hiccups associated with bus alignment at charging stations, the electric fleet is ready for service. WATCH VIDEO
More than 35% of U.S. Public Transit Buses Use Alternative Fuels or Hybrid Technology
American Public Transportation Association (APTA) reminds us that taking public transit is among the most effective ways of reducing our daily carbon footprint because of its ability to take cars off the road. In fact, when APTA examined the bus fleet alone, more than 35 percent of U.S. public transportation buses use alternative fuels or hybrid technology, as of January 1, 2011. This is a striking contrast to the 1.3 percent of automobiles that used alternative-fuels in 2010, according to the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Annual Outlook.
“Public transportation is leading the way with environmentally efficient vehicles,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “The public transit vehicle fleet is the proving ground for environmental technology that may some day become a part of the nation’s automobile fleet.”
APTA statistics for early 2011 show that 18.6 percent of U.S. transit buses used compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG) and blends. Almost 9 percent (8.8%) of public transit buses were hybrids and nearly 8 percent (7.9%) of public transit buses used biodiesel.
“Today’s modern public transit bus is increasingly either a hybrid or is powered by fuels that are good for the environment,” said APTA Chair Flora Castillo.“The public transportation industry is a green industry and is committed to improving the environment.”
From operating environmentally-friendly bus and rail vehicles, building LEEDS certified facilities, using solar bus shelters, and recycling bus wash water, the U.S. public transportation industry -- both public and private sectors -- uses green technologies to further reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality, and help our country reach energy independence.
APTA noted that U.S. public transportation use saves 37 million metric tons of carbon emission every year. Additionally, since public transit use in the United States saves 4.7 billion gallons of gasoline annually, public transit riders are doing their part to help our nation be energy independent, according to APTA.
As of January 1, 2011, 35.6% of all the public transit buses in the United States were alternate powered. Hybrid buses, all electric buses and buses fueled by alternative fuels including compressed natural gas (CNG), biodiesel, and propane were common among public transit systems nationwide. CNG is the most widely used alternative fuel used by public transit systems, followed by hybrid buses and buses using biodiesel fuel. Propone is a new, emerging fuel. Listed below are examples of the diversity of bus fleets across the country in small, mid-sized, and large systems, starting with CNG buses.
Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Buses
Dallas, TX – DART’s new fleet of CNG 40-foot buses fleet began service on January 28, 2013 and will replace the agency’s mix of diesel and liquefied natural gas buses by 2015. The agency’s annual fuel costs will be cut by nearly two-thirds by the end of 2015. DART is putting five new buses into service every week to replace the existing fleet.
Los Angeles, CA – LA Metro operates the largest CNG fleet in the U.S.with 2,200 CNG vehicles. LA Metro also buys15% of all transit buses in the United States.
San Bernardino, CA – Omnitrans’ all CNG fleet will surpass the 100 million mile mark in April, 2013.Omnitrans first started to purchase CNG buses in 1997 and was at the forefront of the transition from diesel fuel to compressed natural gas, adopting the clean fuel technology years before regional air quality regulations mandated the switch.
State College, PA – Centre Area Transportation Authority’s entire fleet runs on CNG. It was the first transit agency on the East Coast to convert its entire diesel fleet to one that operates entirely on alternative fuel.
Hybrid Busesand All Electric Buses
Ann Arbor, MI - Ann Arbor Transportation Authority added 11 new clean diesel-electric hybrid buses to its fleet in March 2013. The total number of hybrids in service will be 52, bringing the fleet to 59% hybrid - - the highest percentage of operating hybrids in the U.S.
Lee County, FL – Lee County Transit took delivery of 24 new hybrid vehicles (22 buses and 2 trolleys) earlier this year, bringing the total number of hybrids to 31, which is 50% of the fleet.
Urbana, IL - Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit Districtoperates diesel-electric hybrid buses that account formore than half of its fleet.
West Covina, CA – Foothill Transit is operating an all electric bus that is charged at a docking station mid-route in under 10 minutes, allowing for continuous, environmentally beneficial transit service along one of the busiest routes. It plans tolaunch Line 291 as a fully electric, zero-emission route in late 2013, the first of its kind in Southern California.
Biodieseland Propane Buses
Peoria, IL - Greater Peoria Mass Transit District’s bus fleet runs on B20 Biodiesel, which is partially made of soybean oil, improves air quality and cuts reliance on foreign oil.
Flint, MI – Mass Transportation Authority is in the process of receiving 60 new propane vehicles.
Miami, FL – Hillsborough Transit Authority - 38% of the fleet has the latest EPA-certified low emission engines.
Examples of Public Transit Systems With A Mix of Alternate-Powered Transit Buses
Phoenix, AZ – Valley Metro’s bus fleet uses CNG and biodiesel fuels, as well as electric-hybrid buses.
Salem, OR – Salem-Keizer Transit’s fleet is made up of 34 CNG buses and 30 biodiesel buses. In 2010, the transit district purchased its first hybrid gas/electric bus.
As cities continue to explore ways of dealing with traffic congestion, car pollution, limited parking and a host of other issues when it come to getting around, do we need to take a closer look at monorails as a solution? We found a great article from a monorail production company in Malaysia, Scomi, who help us make sense of it all.
What makes a monorail vital to the city community?
This is the question that town planners and the community should be asking themselves. This is the question that every stakeholder should be asking before substantial funds are spent on constructing a rail system.
A city should be very sure of how the rail system can benefit the bustling metropolitan. In the case of monorails, we are confident of the many proven advantages the system can offer to any growing city.
Could it be due to the fact the monorail is likely to be the cheapest of all rail systems; there by helping to save tax payers’ money? Or could it be that future monorails, by leveraging on magnetic levitation technology could make travel much faster and smoother?
Or perhaps it’s due to the fact that the monorail is arguably the only rail system that cannot get derailed.
Any of these arguments make for a compelling case. But we believe that by traveling down yesteryear and making stops at the various transit points or milestones of monorail history, one is able to see just why the system should be a vital component of future urban transportation. So lets take a closer look at the monorail.
Introducing the monorail – a thing of science and beauty
The monorail is a vehicle that operates on a single concrete or steel beam, hence the word ‘mono’ – which means one.
This beam is also known as a guideway. In monorails, the guideways are always narrower than the train it supports (around 0.6-0.9 meters wide). This is one of the fundamental features of the monorail which gives it a competitive advantage over other rail systems.
Most monorails are elevated (run above ground) and are electricity powered. They can be classified into three versions:
The straddle version is the most common type of monorail. Basically, the train straddles the single concrete or steel guideway. A rubber-tired carriage contacts the beam on the top and both sides for traction and to stabilize the vehicle.
The suspended version has the train supported from the top. The train and the rolling stock (passenger cars) are suspended beneath the wheel carriage; with the wheels riding within the single beam.
Maglev (Magnetic Levitation)
In a maglev monorail, the train is connected through the use of magnetic levitation. The magnetic effect keeps the train on track. When moving, maglev trains hover over the track. The advantage of this technology is that maglev trains can reach top speeds exceeding 500km/h.
Today, there are several monorail designs which are commonplace, but perhaps the most common is the beam variant, which can be seen in many cities across the world. These include Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Tokyo (Japan) and Las Vegas (USA).
The Early Years
The monorail is actually older than cars, trucks and other automotives.
It has been in existence since the 19th century, proving that even in those early days, the need for mass people or cargo mover was already well received among industrialists and town planners.
The first effective monorail system was the Cheshunt Railway which appeared in 1825. The Cheshunt made history when it carried passengers and helped pave the way for more advanced trains.
The turn of the century signalled a new age in monorail development. 1914 saw the arrival of the Genova monorail – the world’s first straddle type monorail. But it was only in the last 60 years that the monorail began to gain momentum.
In the 1950’s, a combination of larger beams or guideways, with wheels that both supported and guided the train allowed for the birth of the modern monorail. These early frontrunners were the ALWEG straddle design and subsequently, the suspended type, SAFEGE system.
The 1960’s saw monorails operating in full scale mass transit operations as the demand for alternative urban transportation grew rapidly. Cities who adopted these 60’s monorails included:
Seattle, USA (1962)
Tokyo, Japan (1964)
Various Europeans cities across the continent (throughout the 1960’s)
Monorails were also proving useful for shuttle services in theme parks and airports. Major monorails were installed at Disneyland, California, Seattle, and Japan.
The next 40 years has witnessed remarkable development, particularly due to the advances in technology, materials and engineering capability. Monorails from their functional form have been remodeled to become aesthetically pleasing people movers. Naturally, technology has made these trains more comfortable, faster and better performing ‘people movers’.
Today, monorails now dot the city landscapes of a vast number of cities including:
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Las Vegas, USA
The next 40 years will witness remarkable development, particularly due to the advances in technology, materials and engineering capability. Monorails from their functional form are being remodeled to become aesthetically pleasing people movers and naturally, technology will make these trains more comfortable, faster and better performing. A Cost Effective Urban Solution
The most pronounced factor that cannot be ignored about monorails is cost. This is evident when the monorail is compared to several various rail systems in the world:
Monorail vs. Other systems
Cost/km (USD million)
West Rail Hong Kong
Manila Line 3 Ext
Source: SNC-Lavalin Inc; the Monorail Society Note: Cost/km includes capital cost excluding land acquisition.
Perhaps the most interesting revelation of monorails is that with its lower cost, a properly run system can generate profits. The 8-mile Tokyo-Haneda Monorail in Japan, which has been in operation since 1962, has been making profits every year.
In truth, the monorail offers cost savings upon cost savings, along the whole process of its implementation. From the start, by only requiring a single beam as well as by being elevated, the monorail system only needs a fraction of the footprint of other rail systems.
Smaller footprints mean less space needed for track construction and less material used. The construction process is also faster, meaning that local residents and businesses face less disruption or even avoid relocation costs altogether, ultimately providing cost savings.
Once the monorail is already up and running, it is also often cheaper and more efficient than other modes of transportation. The Kuala Lumpur Monorail, for example, offers transport to the whole of downtown Kuala Lumpur for as low as RM1.20 (USD0.38) to a maximum of RM2.50 (USD0.78).
How else can you enjoy such swift, comfortable travel, accompanied by a great elevated view of the city, at this cheap rate? Contrast this with the cost (in time and money) of other modes of transport, from buses to taxis to other rail systems.
Better Safety, Convenience & Comfort
The monorail also offers a host of other clear competitive advantages, from safety to convenience and maneuverability, over many other common urban transportation methods.
Unlike the underground or subway system, whole streets need not be shut down due to monorail construction works. With its single beam and elevated design, the monorail’s small footprint makes it ideal for urban environments where construction, expenditure and environmental impact need to be minimized.
The monorail also solves one of the most common concerns about trains – derailment. Unlike conventional rail systems, monorails wrap around their track and are thus not physically capable of derailing, unless the track itself suffers a catastrophic failure. This itself is very rare.
The vehicle and rolling stock is firmly secured on the guide way for a firm grip so that passengers will always be safe during their journey.
The monorail is a grade separated system with a smaller footprint than the light rail or metro systems.
And by producing only 75dBA, the latter is far quieter, which is a very critical factor in cities where people live close to rail tracks. The light rail system emits noise up to 90dBA.
The use of rubber wheels instead of steel reduces the noise level and also allows for steeper ascent along gradients of up to 6 degrees.
Another key feature is the monorail’s ability to easily maneuver tight corners within a 50-metre turning radius. Other rail systems need at least a 100m-150m equivalent. This means that the tracks can be placed with greater flexibility around buildings. The monorail system has the capability to work within the existing infrastructure of the city with less need to relocate or demolish structures.
The importance is not so much in the buildings, but also to the livelihood of residents, who will not be affected. Imagine if blocks of buildings had to be demolished and people relocated to other areas to build other rail systems that require larger construction area. The socio-political and economic impact can be costly.
The monorail offers a much more responsible answer.
An Eco-friendly Answer to Urban Woes
The monorail reduces the public’s dependence on automobiles – giving them an alternative to battling downtown traffic crawls and rising fuel prices. The best option they enjoy is the choice of whether a car is needed at all.
With the monorail, people are less dependent on private-owned transport. If they don’t need cars so much, there will be fewer cars on the road. This leads to reduced carbon emissions, less air and noise pollution, traffic woes and the stress that comes from driving in a congested city. The result is better environment quality and quality of life for urbanites.
What we look forward to now is how monorails hold more environmentally friendly possibilities for our world. Think of the day, for example, when monorails can run on solar power. After all, with their elevated positioning, the train and its rolling truck are already exposed to sunlight – why not harness it?
These are among the possibilities that we are looking into for the future, and the legacy we would like to leave for our future generations.
Imagine…a completely self-powered, environmentally friendly urban transportation solution for the people. If and when it happens, this would indeed be one of the biggest breakthroughs of our time.
When you look at its long and illustrious history, together with its many strong factors, there is ample justification for the monorail to be part of a long-term urban transportation plan.
History shows that the monorail has served us well for almost 100 years and, with its many competitive advantages and possibilities, it has a bright future. One we'd say could extend to another 100 years or perhaps with technological advances; even more.